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Urgent appeal to a sympathetic Bishop to beg the Pope to extend the faculty to celebrate to assist at the Mass of the Roman Rite according to its 1962 form

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The Bishop, who has not yet granted permission to publish the following promemoria, favorably replied to the appeal. NCCL received subsequent indication from Rome that the appeal was met with the usual opposition from liberals and served the encouragement of the rest … which is history of a remarkable kind since July 7, 2007.

The appeal is all the more interesting insofar as it is made not by a Latin Catholic but by an Eastern Roman, NCCL’s Executive Director.

PERSONAL CONFIDENTIAL

PROMEMORIA

FOR: His Excellency, Bishop [X]
FROM: G. P. Lloyd
610/882-3124
RE: meeting of May 13, 2003
TODAY’S DATE: May 14, 2003

In urgent consideration of the reported announcement which Cardinal Hoyos is expected to make on May 24 when he offers the traditional Roman liturgy at St. Mary Major Basilica, this is what some loyal sons and daughters of the Church have in mind to request humbly of the Holy Father: to extend the faculty to celebrate & to assist at the Mass of the Roman Rite according to its 1962 form; whereby

1.) all clerics and laity of the Roman sui iuris Church be allowed to celebrate and assist at the Mass according to its 1962 form on any day of the week, including Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation;

2.) all religious whose Institutes of Consecrated Life have their own liturgical usage (e.g., Carthusian, Dominican) be allowed to celebrate or assist at the Mass of the 1962 forms of those liturgical usages;

3.) all clerics and laity (including any members of Institutes of Consecrated Life) be allowed to administer and/or receive all the Sacraments including the rites of sacred Ordination according to their 1962 Roman forms

Moreover, that the aforementioned faculties be extended to all churches and oratories where the Norm is ordinarily exercised according to the revised form of the Roman Rite. Or, if impracticable, that the traditional Personal Apostolic Administration of St. John Mary Vianney in Campos, Brazil be authorized to erect personal parishes anywhere in the world with the permission of the respective local ordinaries and using clerics approved by the Apostolic Administrator.

Understanding the Bishop, SPONSUS Ecc1esiae, is the center of ecclesial life, therefore, priests and laity should not be allowed to “pick and choose“ in the liturgical sphere (as Cardinal Ratzinger said in 2002 at the conference on the liturgy at Fontgombault). Some, therefore, would propose simply to insert the extended faculties in the respective liturgical books as an organic part of those selections which the Church already permits. For example, instead of selecting the second, or third Eucharistic Prayer, a cleric would select the 1962 form of Mass in Latin, etc.

For obvious reasons, no one should expect the Apostolic See to reprint all of the liturgical books of the Roman Rite. Rather, an addendum specifying the new faculties could be printed for each respective liturgical book. In this way the margin of potential danger which “free choice“ might present, could be prevented or absorbed. In a word, the root of the “free choice” would not be left to the individual cleric or lay person, but would rest in the will of the Supreme Pontiff to extend tile liturgical selections already permitted.

Sometimes the best way to prevent (potential) schism is to simply institutionalize legitimate divisions, thus transforming them into complementary paths toward unity.

Catholics called traditional would ask this because they have discovered the 1962 liturgical forms to be a profound expression of a complementary spirituality of the Roman Rite. No one need embrace this path in opposition to the Norm, any more than the Dominican Rite opposes the Ambrosian Rite.

His Holiness might well feel a paternal need to justify such a decision before those who may not share his sensitivity. Therefore, the justification for this new generous sign could be simply to respond to the “legitimate aspirations” (cf. Ecclesia Dei of July 1988) of an increasing number of the Church’s sons and daughters who are deeply loyal to the See made holy by the Blood of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

This new directive seems all the more urgent as a way of preventing hostile ecclesial positions from taking root due, among other reasons, to the feeling of marginalization which many Catholics who are called traditional feel.

So much for the appeal some have in mind. Now, why?

Many thought the Society of St. Pius X would dissolve after the 1988 consecrations of the four bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre. Not only has it not, but the Society thrives. The solution offered with Ecclesia Dei Adflicta was, as Cardinal Palazzini clearly saw in July 1988, doomed from the start. He said the Commission which the motu proprio established needed to be composed only of Cardinals, and those most trusted by the Holy Father, the only one still active among those he named being Cardinal Ratzinger. This is because he saw that the Commission, being subject to the Secretariat of State, could never do what is necessary to regularize the SSPX. Being as it is organized (like the rest of the Curia since Paul VI decided to “depoliticize” it!) under the Secretariat of State, it’s work looks and is (too) ‘political’: not exactly an absolute criticism, since how else is the work of diplomats supposed to be conducted except politically? The point is, however: the sublime politics of the traditional Doctrine of the Faith and the Liturgy cannot be subject to the politics of diplomacy. It’s precisely the inversion of the (just) politics of the Roman Curia which helped get us into this mess in the first place. (The original preeminence of the Holy Office in the Curia needs to be reestablished, too. But, that for another appeal.) The problems posed by the particular crisis with the SSPX et al are first and foremost liturgical and theological; only thereafter diplomacy helps. The Cardinals Secretary of State learned the same theology as Archbishop Lefebvre, it’s just that they seem to have forgotten it when they went into the diplomatic corps.

While it is true that not a few traditional Catholics seem to have a penchant for shooting themselves seven times in the foot with a six-shooter, many of them, clerics & religious especially, have been so maliciously treated that one cannot be surprised if they behave like ‘angry people’. (I do not say this so much to exonerate, but to understand the phenomenon.) Cardinal Oddi wrote in his memoirs that Archbishop Lefebvre could not be faulted for not accepting the terms of the negotiations in 1988. First the Roman negotiators said he could consecrate no bishops. Basta. Then, when he said he was prepared to consecrate more than one, they said he could consecrate one bishop. Why the sudden change of mind, after adamant refusal? There was no logic in it. The Archbishop saw in it, and other parts of the negotiations, politics as usual.1 He could not bear the thought of turning over his flock to those who had, in so many instances, dealt them hitherto so treacherously.

[footnote 1. There is nothing wrong with politics, understood in its etymological and Greek sense: as the love of the people, the city. But this is not to be confused with the politics of ‘wheeling and dealing’ at Tamany Hall which some people have used against the SSPX. ]

I cite but a few of countless examples: The Dominican nuns at Toulouse were expelled from the Order on trumped-up charges of concunibage. The Dominican provincial, it was discovered after the Bishop was shown all the evidence, had flatly lied to the Bishop about the nuns. Why? Because they were a community of the Society of St. Pius X, and he wanted them done away with. Or, take the suppression of the SSPX back in the 70’s, no less a travesty. The local Ordinary decided to suppress the Society, but without obtaining the necessary permission from Rome to remove the original nihil obstat. Archbishop Lefebvre appealed to all parties against so patently illegal an act. Finally, after getting no reply, he went personally to Rome. There he was told by the competent judge of the highest tribunal that no one was permitted to decide the matter because … the Secretariat of State had forbidden them to hear the case! And then there are the cases far too numerous to recount of priests and religious – even those suspected of being merely associated with the Society – who have been excluded from public places, framed and blackmailed, barred from saying or hearing Mass, even prevented from loaning books from Church libraries. One Society priest, Fr. Aulaugnier, was barred from the nunciature in Paris – he was made to stand out in the street – to prevent meeting Cardinal Gagnon (who was expecting him) on official business; he was blocked out notwithstanding the protestations of the Cardinal himself.

I strongly recommend Your Excellency suggest to the Holy Father that the solution for the SSPX be redimensioned, before His Holiness goes to the grave. And quickly – before something else is announced on May 24 at the Mass at the Basilica. (Cf. enclosure.) Why? We are now living through an almost carbon copy of the year 1054. We cannot afford to delay, by making incremental concessions to the SSPX now. Meanwhile, they slip farther away. They are fed up with stall tactics, and perceive it as just that: more politics as usual. What sense, what logic is there in that, anyway? Since Cardinal Hoyos has already said he will give later, after they return, to the Society what they ask for now, why not give it now? (I enclose also reports of the negotiations of Cardinal and Bishop Fellay of last year.) To not do so now does look like more (bad) politics. Surely, after all the broken promises to them, one cannot blame the Society for not ‘holding their breath’ until December. And they won’t, – I and anyone who knows them – can assure you. Bishop Fellay himself has said: We no longer sit and wait for Rome to come around: we shall set the conditions. But surely, since Bishop Fellay has just recently spoken publicly in praise of the Holy Father’s recent encyclical on the Eucharist, the Pope could build on that development. 2

[footnote 2. Not for 15 years or more has he said anything so positive publicly. Surely Rome can take this cue.]

If the Pope dies without effecting the healing he so longs for, who will presume the (deepening of the) schism will be repaired? Early in 1054 the Pope died. A couple of months later the Roman legatus issued the (in)famous excommunication, which on account of being given after the Pope’s death was invalid anyway. Nonetheless, the Orthodox reciprocated by removing the prayers for the Pope from the diptychs of the liturgy. The rest, as they say, is history: a thousand years for both sides to come up with all sorts of justifications, theological and otherwise, for (continuing) the estrangement. What began as something small, seemingly insignificant, has grown into an unthinkably terrible condition.

The SSPX has already begun to build a parallel church, despite Archbishop Lefevbre’s warnings and provisions to the contrary. They have, e.g., set up their own marriage tribunals, and some are now casting doubts on the Holy Father’s canonizations. How difficult is it now to imagine they eventually will do as the Orthodox have done, who say that, because of this ‘loophole’ or that one, that the See of Rome is vacant – saying this even while admitting the need to honor that See. “But”, say the Orthodox, “it is tainted”, or “enough of the Latin politics”! Sound familiar?

When Pope John Paul II announced to the Synod of Bishops his appointment of Cardinal Gagnon to visit all the Society’s communities, the Cardinal said: “We must be careful, or there will be a schism. Let us pray this [effort] succeeds now, so that we don’t later have to start another ecumenical movement to repair a break with the Society.” It has not succeeded. The effort needs to be redimensioned, post haste.

After the Episcopal consecrations by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, the Holy Father called Cardinal Lustiger to go back to Paris in July to offer a solemn Pontifical Latin Mass. When the Cardinal balked, the Holy Father said: Do you want to see another schism in the Church? And the Pope made the Cardinal go back and offer the Mass. I am begging Your Excellency to write (only) to the Holy Father, to do everything You can, to explain that the Orthodox are seeing and saying the same things.

Who really can expect the Orthodox, who are arch-traditional – especially in liturgical matters – to take the current ecumenical movement seriously, when they are already scandalized at the way the Latins treat their own traditionalists? They can’t possibly see how or why, on the one hand, the Divine Liturgy of Constantinople could possibly survive ‘reform’ upon reunion, when, on the other hand, we Catholics cannot even treat our own people fairly now. The people conducting ecumenism with the Orthodox, typically the same who oppose the Latin Mass, are in for a big surprise when they find out that the Eastern Roman (Constantinopalitan) Divine Liturgy is the EXACT counterpart of the Western Roman (Latin) Mass. The theologies in both are identical. I know for a fact that the same Cardinals and Bishops who oppose the Latin Mass are those whose jaws drop when they find this out in their ecumenical contacts with the Orthodox. And it is one reason why the dialogues inevitably stall. The Orthodox cannot possibly be expected to deal confidently with those of us who are unaware of these basic, simple facts.

As the Holy Father already demonstrates from his profound understanding of the universality of the Church (cf. for example Orientale Lumen, or Unum Sint, etc.), their are legitimate divisions which contribute to the Unity of the Church. Sometimes, the best way to diffuse the tension of existing divisions is to institutionalize them. The English are very good at this. They never pick a fight they know they cannot win. (They didn’t become an empire by accident.) They know how to compromise with an adversary in such a way as to make it seem they have given them just what they always wanted. (Tony Blaire did this recently with Scotland.) But the French – who lead the SSPX – will never back down from a confrontation. They are relentless. Only Napoleon could have kidnapped Pius VII, and only the French could have held the Popes in Avignon. The traditionalists must give up their pride to win. What can Rome do about that? Cease making the Old Mass something restricted. Do this and the problem will dispel by and by. Keep restrictions on the Mass (e.g., extend the Indult but only for Sundays and Holy Days, as the enclosed reports indicate), and the problem will deepen: the traditionalists will say, “See, politics as usual!” So long as they think Rome’s incremental concessions are designed to draw traditionalists “into the mainstream” – i.e., to get them to leave the old Mass, or to gradually update the 1962 missal, as certain officials of the Ecclesia Dei Commission publicly advocate – there stands the likelihood of a schism every five years. No, what we need is to follow the EXACT will of the Holy Father in the matter: these people have legitimate aspirations for the ancient Roman rites, so why not give them those rites. But to let them have them on Sundays and Holy days is like expecting a husband to agree to live with his own wife on weekends and special occasions, and with someone else’s wife the rest of the time! It is time rather to take the matter out of the hands of the Bishops (and the priests who have fits of apoplexy over having to make the decision), and put it where it belongs: into the hands of the Pope. He has the charism.

The fact is, the Holy Father has already declared that Catholics have legitimate aspirations to the traditional forms of the Latin liturgical patrimony. The old Mass is an intrinsically good thing. What possibly should prevent one from acknowledging that fact? What possible consequence could one fear from extending the faculties and opportunities for it? If a course of action is good in itself and morally opportune, why should the possible objections to that course of action be a reason for not implementing it? For all reasonable men would agree that the direct positive effects of such a course of action would outweigh, by far, whatever indirect negative effects might flow from such a course of action – this being all the more true since the negative effects are hypothetical, and pale in the light of right reason.

It is important that only the Pope be approached with this appeal. He is already under a tremendous amount of pressure, from very side, especially from the Bishops, as Your Excellency yourself has said. Because of my love for him, I do not wish any more pressure from others: it is for the Pope to decide such matters, only he has the Grace of State. Besides, how many of the Bishops are already upset with him over what he does? – and such there will always be. It is far better to allow a few Bishops to grumble who will soon die or retire at age 75 than to have another thousand-year schism to repair. Besides, that some bishops in the States would oppose the decision is a good sign to some in Rome, who think that is how some of the bishops here work out their Jansenism!

I am reminded of when the Dutch and French Bishops were threatening Pope Paul VI with schism. Cardinal Siri went to see the nervous Pontiff. “How many Cardinals are there in France?”, he asked Paul VI, who quickly estimated six or seven. Replied Siri, “there are over twice that number of men in France who want to become Cardinal there. And in Holland, how many Bishops there?”, whereupon the Pontiff’s estimate had become less hesitant. “There, also, I assure Your Holiness, are at least twice that number who wish to fill the vacancies immediately. Do not worry, Holiness, only Rome can satisfy that itch”, to which Pope Paul replied: “You are very wise.” Moral of the story? So long as a superior lets his subordinates think their antics worry him, the subordinates will continue to threaten the superior.

But we must worry about the schism to come, to deepen.

What kind of person is it, anyway, that gets angry over someone else offering or assisting at the old Latin Mass? I should dare say, now that it’s out, that to the man, they are those leading double lives. I should think the recent public scandals indicate at least that. Those people leading double lives are the only people who “go ballistic“ over other people offering or assisting at the old Latin Mass. On what rational basis could one object to the old Mass? Precisely because there is no reason to object; that is why all the fuss and anger – from the same kind of people who will be shocked when they find out who the Orthodox are, and what their Liturgy represents.

The more the authorities give the appearance that the old Mass is forbidden, the more there will be those who clamor for it. The fuss for it will die down, mostly, when the option for it is given. This is the simple human psychology of the “forbidden fruit syndrome”. It is especially the wrong (i.e., imbalanced) people who crave the forbidden fruit most, since they go for just about any wrong idea. Only those with reasonable motivations will go about things in a serene manner after the faculty is extended. And this will cure the problem with the SSPX.

Already, I am convinced, Your Excellency’s bravery and generosity shall be remembered in history as a noble defense of the ancient Roman Liturgy. For now, only God and the All-Holy Virgin can prevent the impending schism: and may They grant Their friends the grace to work humbly for and with Them.

Could Your Excellency write to the Holy Father, something short and sweet, saying You think such an appeal is a good idea?

All letters and other communications I receive, I do so directly with the greatest confidentiality,

c/o 528 North New Street, Suite 2 Bethlehem, PA 18108-5715
tel 610/882-3124; fax 610/882-3125
[e-mail address]

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