Pope telephoned French Bishops about “Tridentine” Mass?

Biretta tip to long time WDTPRSer Henry for the latest on the Motu Proprio derestricting the older form of Holy Mass.  o{]:¬)

Take notice of the careful language, like "It is said…"

My emphasis:

THE CATHOLIC HERALD 5 JANUARY 2007

“Pope picks up the phone in defense of the Old Rite”

BY MARK GREAVES

POPE BENEDICT XVI has spoken by telephone to a number of French bishops to persuade them to accept a wider use of the Tridentine Mass, it has been claimed.

The Pontiff brought French bishops who oppose the Tridentine Mass "to a reluctant but decisive change of view", according to the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), an organisation of Old Rite priests that the Pope strongly supports.

It is widely expected that a papal document will soon be released to allow priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass – using the pre-Vatican II 1962 Latin Missal – without the explicit permission of the local bishop, though probably only in the low-key setting of a "private" celebration. The document, which will be released motu proprio, or on the Pope’s own initiative, has caused concern among bishops in France, where traditionalist groups are particularly active.

But efforts by the French episcopate to "torpedo" the initiative have failed, according to Videre Petrum, the FSSP’s British newsletter.

"It is said that the mild but persuasive words of Pope Benedict, who personally spoke by telephone to many of the most intransigent enemies of tradition among the bishops of France, worked a sort of miracle, and brought them to a reluctant but decisive change of view, or at least to a recognition of the limits of disobedience," the newsletter said. Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, a former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said last month that the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei commission had discussed the document and would pass on its conclusions to the Pope.

The cardinal added that he did not expect the commission, set up in 1988 to oversee Vatican relations with traditionalists, to discuss the document any further.

Commentators say priests will be allowed to celebrate the Tridentine Rite without permission at "private Masses" that would be nevertheless be open to the public.

The proposed reform would put pressure on the bishops of England and Wales to adopt a more welcoming stance towards the FSSP, which currently has only two priests based in London.

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35 Responses to Pope telephoned French Bishops about “Tridentine” Mass?

  1. Fr Jerome says:

    Hoorah!

  2. CDB says:

    If this report is trustworthy, it helps show that there are good reasons for the delay in publishing the Motu proprio.

  3. Brian Mershon says:

    With the way that people in the Church gossip and pass along information, prelates included, it sure would be nice if this story quoted a specific person saying this rather than the story hiding unanimously behind an FSSP newsletter.

  4. RC says:

    OK; anyone want to speculate on what the title of the motu proprio will be? We’re going to be talking about this document for years.

  5. Mark says:

    Whahey! This sounds wonderful!

    There are indult Masses up here in Scotland, but I’ve lost contact with our local FSSP Priest.

  6. Paul Haley says:

    We don’t know if this is true or not but it does seem logical. I think the Pope wants the bishops to welcome the traditional rite and doesn’t want to spark a big fight in the episcopacy with the motu proprio. Nevertheless, I believe there will be malcontents who simply will not give up their modernist views. I hope I’m wrong.

  7. Dan Hunter says:

    Father,
    What does “private mass open to the public mean”?
    God bless you.

  8. OK; anyone want to speculate on what the title of the motu proprio will be?

    IT’S BAAACK!

    (As in the alleged winner HE’S BAAACK! of the legendary contest for the best newspaper headline for the story of the Second Coming.)

  9. Dan: That might be, I suppose, a Mass not formally on the schedule (but it could be as regular as any other) when the doors are left open and anyone can accidently wander in. However, we don’t know what the language of the M.P. will be or how this will be described.

  10. RC & Henry: ROLF!

    I’ll start something on that!

  11. tim says:

    Here’s a guess (Fr. Z, feel free to correct the Latin): Missa Saeculorum

  12. Joshua says:

    “That might be, I suppose, a Mass not formally on the schedule (but it could be as regular as any other) when the doors are left open and anyone can accidently wander in. However, we don’t know what the language of the M.P. will be or how this will be described.-Fr. John Zuhlsdorf”

    The local auxiliary bishop here (Santa Barbara region, LA archdiocese) said that a private Mass would be a Mass not advertised in the regular schedule, so at least that bishop agrees with you. (This was in context of the Old Mass, we have had priests visit who have celebrets and also religious order priests only need permission of their superiors for private Masses, though a public Mass needs episcopal permission)

    I sure hope that the permission is more than just for private Masses…most priests I know could say it under the current rules, except for prudence with respect to the bishop (a Dominican Father I know has permission to say the Dominican rite from his superior, but he never exercises that except at indult Masses out of prudence)

  13. Mike says:

    How about: Missa Patrium Nostri

  14. B. says:

    As to what consists a private mass:
    A few months ago there was this incident in Germany:
    A lay group in the Diocese of Mainz invited an FSSP priest for a talk, and they wanted him to say mass for them after the talk. The pastor of the parish had agreed.
    Alas, the group wanted to do everything right, and informed the Bishop, Cardinal Lehmann, who quickly sent a fax prohibiting this singular old mass in the diocese.
    The group wrote to the Ecclesia Dei commission. The reply they got was as follows: The informing of the Bishop was certainly a diplay of German thoroughness. “Would it not have been better to regard the mass as a private mass of the priest without talking much about it?”

  15. AC says:

    I don’t want to be negative, but why is the pope “pursuading” anyone? He’s not a diplomat he’s a Supreme Pontiff
    and he should simply do what he wants — if he wants this. Even the name of the document isn’t accurate since
    there’s others rewriting it and negotiating it. I just don’t know why we traditionals keep settling for breadcrumbs —
    or worse, for nothing, since we still don’t have this and it was supposed to have come a year ago. Why can’t he
    just free up the Mass entirely, not just for private Masses, and free up the sacraments? Again, this is breadcrumbs if it is true. They don’t want the Mass open to all, just a private Mass. this way the protestantized catholic new massers
    won’t see women with their heads covered, priests in what they consider dresses (cassocks) or priests with their
    backs “turned to the congregation.” I want this indult too, but i’m not willing to sell my soul — or my faith — for it. At some point, just like in France, the diocene parishes will be empty while the SSPX and, God forbid, the sedevaticanists churches flourish. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.

  16. That might be, I suppose, a Mass not formally on the schedule (but it could be as regular as any other) when the doors are left open and anyone can accidently wander in.

    A local pastor of a small parish had on Christmas Day only a single regularly scheduled Mass, at 9:30 am. The word got around that he was also celebrating a (not regularly scheduled) ad orientem Latin Novus Ordo — with Latin hymns and Gregorian chant, incense, the works, etc. — at 11:30 am. The attendance at the 11:30 Mass turned out to be substantially larger than at the ordinary vernacular 9:30 am Mass.

  17. RBrown says:

    I don’t want to be negative, but why is the pope “pursuading” anyone? He’s not a diplomat he’s a Supreme Pontiff and he should simply do what he wants—if he wants this.

    The pope is the Supreme Pastor, whose Petrine office is described by Christ: “Feed my sheep”.

    NB: Christ said feed, not cram it down their throats.

  18. AC says:

    You mean craming it down our throats like Paul IV did basically overnight with the new mass and faith?

  19. RBrown says:

    You mean craming it down our throats like Paul IV did basically overnight with the new mass and faith?

    Exactly.

  20. Surely some mistake.

    Pope Paul IV was in no sense a liberal!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Paul_IV

  21. PS

    And would have had Archbishop Wielgus imprisoned without any doubt. See previous link re Cardinal Morrone.

  22. Lurker #59 says:

    I am not terribly encouraged by this development of the attitude of “as long as the bishop is not aware, it is ok”. It is not healthy for the hierarchy of the Church and really creates an us against them mentality.

    A priest should not have to distrust his bishop. In fact, the normative assumption with allowing the Tridentine Mass as long as it is “unscheduled” is that the bishop will be uncooperative to the practice of the historic Catholic faith. This really is an attitude that is not needed. Speaking of the structure of the Church as the people of God, she, the Church, exists around the bishop in a proper celebration of the Eucharist. If priests become disassociated from this structure, then there is a practical schism in the Church.

    The Motu Proprio should not go down this path of disassociating the priest from his bishop in liturgical matters. I cannot see B16 setting up a situation like that, as it is against many of his writings as a cardinal.

    There must be communion between the bishop and his priests. Unfortunately that will not happen by simply freeing the Old Mass, but it must come through the conversion of those bishops who are hostile to the historic practice of the faith (many who are also hostile to the faith itself).

    Because that is easier said than done, I do not expect the Motu Proprio to ultimately be that permissive unless it either 1.) Strong arms hostile bishops to be in conformity to the Church and her liturgical worship(unlikely) 2.) Places orthodox priests under the care of orthodox bishops as a requirement for the celebration of the Mass. This would be a freeing of the FSSP from having much to do with the local ordinary and allowing diocesan priests to have dual affiliations.

    What I expect is that the Mass will be freed for private use, but bishops will control what Mass can and can not be said in the public worship spaces of the diocese during times of public worship. I cannot see the Motu Proprio taking away the bishop’s control and authority over what occurs within his churches.

  23. RBrown says:

    Because that is easier said than done, I do not expect the Motu Proprio to ultimately be that permissive unless it either 1.) Strong arms hostile bishops to be in conformity to the Church and her liturgical worship(unlikely) 2.) Places orthodox priests under the care of orthodox bishops as a requirement for the celebration of the Mass. This would be a freeing of the FSSP from having much to do with the local ordinary and allowing diocesan priests to have dual affiliations.

    What I expect is that the Mass will be freed for private use, but bishops will control what Mass can and can not be said in the public worship spaces of the diocese during times of public worship. I cannot see the Motu Proprio taking away the bishop’s control and authority over what occurs within his churches.

    If the Motu Proprio only goes as far as you think it will, then it will not create circumstances encouraging the return of the SSPX.

    Although a bishop has authority over his diocese, in truth, his authority is always mitigated by the Supreme Authority of the Pope. There are various examples of this, including religious orders (Institutes of Pontifical Right) and Personal Prelatures of the pope (e.g., Opus Dei). It is possible that the SSPX will be either an Int of PR or a Personal Prelature.

    BTW, the number we heard that would make it necessary to get the permission of the bishop is 100.

  24. Lurker #59 says:

    ~RBrown,

    I think that the encouragement of the return of the SSPX is secondary to the concern of re-estabilishing the proper place of the bishop with in the structure of the Church. If we view the Motu Proprio in the context of Ratzinger writings on communion, both in terms of communion around the Eucharist, and the reestablishment of communion with the Orthodox, the Motu Proprio will not limit the authority of the bishops. Practically, I would expect it to strengthen the authority of the bishops, even while at the same time strengthening the authority of the Papacy to confirm and regulate the individual bishops in their individual authority.

    In fact, a strengthening of the authority of the bishop also helps the SSPX by allowing them more automity visa viz Rome thereby reducing the number of point that the SSPX must affirm before the decrees of excommunication can be dropped and they can return to communion.

    But I would also say that the SSPX is of less concern than the Orthodox and that the Motu Proprio will in part be setting up conditions and situations that are favorable to an ecclesiology that is conductive to both Eastern Catholics and Orthodox.

    Under B16, we have already seen the papacy begin to move away from an ecclesiology which views the Pope as Primate of the West, where the western bishops must conform to the Pope in the same way as the priests much conform to the bishop, to one where individual bishops are gaining more authority and the Papacy serves to confirm and strengthen the local bishop who is heir to the authority of the apostles. For example consider Cardinal Zen who is being prompted to exercise more and more authority over the Church in China, rather than letting the Vatican speak first, he speaks first and the Vatican backs him up.

    Anyway back to the matter at hand…the important key that I seen in all of this is not liturgy but rather ecclesiology. The liturgy is distorted in many places because the local Church no longer knows who she is or what she is about. Simply freeing the liturgy will only add to this crisis of identity as it separates priest from bishop. So I expect the Motu Proprio to have a very large ecclesial component about the rights and responsibilities of the bishop via a viz the celebration of the Eucharist. The writings of Ratzinger are very interested in community and communion. The liturgy is both the life of the community, but this life can only be lived out in the community of the Church. They cannot be separated, so I would expect the Motu Proprio to maintain this by not simply saying that a priest, independent of his bishop, who is the true spiritual father of the local Church, can say whatever mass he wants.

  25. Mcac says:

    This would all be rediculous if it wasn’t so sad. Can anyone imagine Pope Pius V asking permission from bishops who don’t even understand at best or hate at worst catholic tradition? No, he wouldn’t. He’d simply lead. Sometimes there’s no gray area. Sometimes there’s only black and white. Right and wrong. In this case, we don’t need persmission to assist at the Mass of Ages and priests don’t need permission regardless of the bishop’s wishes.

  26. Wow, imagine getting a phone call from the holy father!

    I don’t get many calls from the archbishop, and when I do, it makes me jump.

  27. Paul Haley says:

    The bishops are the authority in their respective dioceses (to our great chagrin) and this is all the more reason why a worldwide apostolic administration is a necessity. I don’t see this happening now but perhaps in future if the response by the bishops is less than hoped for. And if the past is any indication ….

  28. CDB says:

    Anyone who thinks that this (alleged) action of the Pope (phone calls to French bishops) is a sign of weakness does not have very much experience in leadership. This is exactly the type of thing a good leader would do. He’s letting his line officers know this is VERY important to him and that he wants to see it implemented in both spirit and letter.

  29. Brian says:

    “persuasive words of Pope Benedict… brought them to a reluctant but decisive change of view, or at least to a recognition of the limits of disobedience”

    That seems like a huge development in “collegiality.” It appears that the Pope has told them in no uncertain terms that overt disobedience will no longer be tolerated.

  30. michigancatholic says:

    I hope Benedict XVI called them up and gave them hell about whining under obedience to him. It would serve them right, the worms.

    He should call up the USCCB next.

  31. RBrown says:

    I think that the encouragement of the return of the SSPX is secondary to the concern of re-estabilishing the proper place of the bishop with in the structure of the Church. If we view the Motu Proprio in the context of Ratzinger writings on communion, both in terms of communion around the Eucharist, and the reestablishment of communion with the Orthodox, the Motu Proprio will not limit the authority of the bishops. Practically, I would expect it to strengthen the authority of the bishops, even while at the same time strengthening the authority of the Papacy to confirm and regulate the individual bishops in their individual authority.

    Most of Ratzinger’s writings on the Church as communion were done in the early 90’s–“Called to Communion” in 1991 and “Some aspects of the Church as Communion” (from the SCDR) in 1994. Although I don’t think he has changed his mind on those matters, his later writings (“The Spirit of the Liturgy”) would indicate a change in emphasis. He is now very much interested in internal Church reform.

    NB: He has taken the name of Benedict, a man who lived as a hermit in a cave then abbot of a monastery.

    In fact, a strengthening of the authority of the bishop also helps the SSPX by allowing them more automity visa viz Rome thereby reducing the number of point that the SSPX must affirm before the decrees of excommunication can be dropped and they can return to com

    It doesn’t seem that many of the French bishops thought that it would strengthen their authority, nor for that matter have most bishops of the past 30 years. As I said above, any institution in any diocese whose rights flow directly from the Pope (Opus Dei or a religious order) mitigates the authority of the ordinarius loci.

    The Motu Proprio would be aimed at bringing the SSPX back in AND beginning to re-establish the roots of Western culture.

    But I do think that vernacular liturgy has been more a parochial experience (and thus less an episcopal one) than one linked to the entire Church. Latin, as JXXIII says in VS, is a sign of the Church’s universality.


    But I would also say that the SSPX is of less concern than the Orthodox and that the Motu Proprio will in part be setting up conditions and situations that are favorable to an ecclesiology that is conductive to both Eastern Catholics and Orthodox.

    So you’re saying that a Motu Proprio that is intended to widen the permission for use of the 1962 Missal is aimed at the Orthodox?


    Under B16, we have already seen the papacy begin to move away from an ecclesiology which views the Pope as Primate of the West, where the western bishops must conform to the Pope in the same way as the priests much conform to the bishop, to one where individual bishops are gaining more authority and the Papacy serves to confirm and strengthen the local bishop who is heir to the authority of the apostles. For example consider Cardinal Zen who is being prompted to exercise more and more authority over the Church in China, rather than letting the Vatican speak first, he speaks first and the Vatican backs him up.

    IMHO, the title Patriarch of the West was dropped so that papal primacy would be seen as universal rather than just the authority of the Head Man in the West. And so relations with the Patriarch of the Orthodox are now less a matter of East and West.


    Anyway back to the matter at hand…the important key that I seen in all of this is not liturgy but rather ecclesiology. The liturgy is distorted in many places because the local Church no longer knows who she is or what she is about. Simply freeing the liturgy will only add to this crisis of identity as it separates priest from bishop. So I expect the Motu Proprio to have a very large ecclesial component about the rights and responsibilities of the bishop via a viz the celebration of the Eucharist. The writings of Ratzinger are very interested in community and communion. The liturgy is both the life of the community, but this life can only be lived out in the community of the Church. They cannot be separated, so I would expect the Motu Proprio to maintain this by not simply saying that a priest, independent of his bishop, who is the true spiritual father of the local Church, can say whatever mass he wants.

    I wrote above that according to the leaks about the Motu Proprio, it will be a permission for private masses and masses with fewer than 100. For some reason, you decided to refute the notion that the MP would let a priest say whatever mass he wants.

  32. RBrown: “The Motu Proprio would be aimed at bringing the SSPX back in AND beginning to re-establish the roots of Western culture.”

    Yes. That has been my point alibi.

  33. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    Certainly there must be a communion between priest and bishop but not to the detriment of the rights of the priest and the faithful.If the communion is upermost then why does the law of the church allow appeal of bishops’decision to Rome?Cardinal Arinze always says that people have the right to go to Rome.Communion between priest and bishop in my mind is of major importance but SECONDARY to communion between the priest and the Sovereign Pontiff.

  34. Christoph Matthias HAGEN says:

    Es ist nur zu hoffen, dass das neue Motu proprio nicht die Unterscheidung zwischen einem ordentlichen und einem ausserordentlichen Ritus enthält. Wenn doch, so wäre es auch liturgiegeschichtlich die einzige richtige Variante, den überlieferten Ritus als den ordentlichen Ritus zu definieren.

  35. Adam van der Meer says:

    That’s funny. Google Language Tools translates “ordentlichen” as “tidy”!

    “…that the new Motu proprio does not contain the distinction between a tidy and an extraordinary rite…”

    I suppose the proper translation would be “…between an ordinary and an extraordinary…”