The reason for the following letter to Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos becomes self-evident when it is read.
Hundreds of collaborators co-signed the letter, which although it did not accomplish all that was hoped-for, nonetheless probably contributed to the eventual result, which was a change to the prayers to remove all possible reasonable misinterpretation of the prayers as offensive, while retaining elements of prayer for conversion.
October 24, 2007
Darío Cardinal CASTRILLÓN HOYOS
President, Commission Ecclesia Dei
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11
00193 Rome ITALY
The media informs us that your Dicastery is preparing a “document-instruction on the correct interpretation of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.” While we assure Your Eminence that your work is always accompanied by our humble prayers, we would like to express, with the deepest loyalty to you, a concern shared no doubt by most Catholics who are commonly called traditional.
We are worried that the Ecclesia Dei Commission might underestimate, in practice and theory, the importance of prayers for the conversion of Jews in the Church’s public cult. Apart from the fact that Catholics do not concern ourselves with their cult, it is no secret that for two thousand years upright Christians profess that the love of Our Lord brought about the Incarnation to save all men of good will through His Church. Never has this been nor can this ever be an excuse for anti-Semitism. On the contrary, it is a sign of the Church’s deepest love and concern for man. Indeed, it would be contradictory and, therefore, silly to pray for the conversion of Jews on one hand and, on the other hand, to wish them some evil.
We, therefore, beg you to re-consider any plan that might be afoot to suppress the prayers for the conversion of the Jews from the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. We ask this because the Church’s public cult must express the will of Our Lord, who continues to pray and offer Himself to the Father in the forms as well as the “matter” of the prayer of Holy Mother Church, in Spiritu et Veritate.
If we may, we would like to make a suggestion. Rather than suppress the prayers for the conversion of the Jews, why not issue a brief commentary-note explaining those prayers? That would be useful for both Jews as well as Christians. For it would further the profession of the Church’s exact mission as well as re-assure those Jews who are said to worry that the prayer of the Church can be a cause of ill will. That explanatory note might mention, among other things, that many Christians, especially the Orthodox (whose liturgical prayers concerning the Jews are even more ‘robust’ than those of the Roman Rite), would be scandalised to think that we Christians no longer wish the same supernatural good for Jews that we wish for ourselves.
While remaining loyal sons and daughters of the Successor of Peter, we remain obedient servants of You, our Lord Cardinal. And we humbly beg to be allowed to prostrate to kiss the Sacred Purple of Your Eminence.
/co-signed by approx. 500 faithful/
Since not a few signers before and would-be signers since of letters of the above sort have expressed wonderment at the reference, at the end of the letter, to venerating the “sacred Purple”, an explanation is in order – if only because otherwise, some may (falsely) interpret it’s meaning.
The sacred Purple of the cardinalate is symbolic of the royal office (duty) conferred by the Pope on those princes of the Church he calls at consistory to special service of the Holy See of Rome. This particular color also recalls the sacred Blood of the Roman martyrs, principally Ss. Peter and Paul whose blood adorns and has made holy the See of Rome. It also reminds the cardinal that he too must be ready to shed his blood for holy Church.
The manner, therefore, of saluting such a prince is, traditionally, not only a sign of fealty to the Roman Pontiff, but encapsulates the confession of faith of any loyal Catholic in the universal authority of the Holy See to teach, to rule and to sanctify in the manner reserved alone to him whose charism it is from Christ to “confirm the brethren”. Begging to kiss the sacred Purple is a most apt sign, therefore, for those who aspire to be traditional Catholics to show fidelity to the See of eternal Rome.
If nothing else, the term demonstrates that there are traditional Catholics in America and other liberal lands who, despite the more prevalent impression in Rome, are quite willing to put aside their peculiar national tendencies in the service to the Church – in the distinguished tradition also of John Henry Newman, who, it must be recalled, wrote thus to one equal in ecclesial rank:
To Cardinal Nina. [undated; latter March, 1879]
MY LORD CARDINAL,
I cannot close this letter, my Lord Cardinal, without begging you to accept the homage of my profound respect and my deep-felt gratitude for the kind courtesy with which you have condescended to discharge the commission of His Holiness.
I have the honour to kiss the Sacred Purple and to be
Your Eminence’s most humble and devoted servant,
JOHN H. NEWMAN.