Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, gave an interview to L’Osservatore Romano.
I am thinking that this does two things. First, he is shoring up what the Holy Father has been saying about ad orientem worship and he is getting people thinking about Summorum Pontificum again, in anticipation of the Holy Father’s explanatory letter.
Some points to watch for.
- Notice how the Cardinal states very strongly that priests of the SSPX are not excommunicated. That must mean that when they adhered to the SSPX, by accepting ordination from excommunicated bishops, by taking orders and wages from them, they did not adhere to schism.
- Also, take careful note that the Cardinal made the effort to build up ad orientem celebration of Mass, also for the Novus Ordo.
- He also pressed the possibility of celebration of the Novus Ordo in Latin.
- He made points important for music and architecture.
- He affirmed that priests do NOT need permission from their bishops. But he spoke about adequate preparation. His comments about that make me think that the Holy Father’s letter must address this.
Here is my own translation.
The sense of Catholicity and unity in the liturgy
by Gianluca Biccini
"Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman liturgy before the reform effected in 1970 is causing to return also some non-Catholics into full communion with Rome. Requests are being received for this after the Pope renewed the possibility of celebrating according to the old rite". Thus affirmed Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, who in this interview with our newspaper, after the publication of the pontifical document in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, clarified some of its contents and underscored its importance as a tool to preserve the treasury of the liturgy that comes from the time of St. Gregory the Great and for a renewed dialogue with those who, because of the liturgical reform, were distanced from the Church of Rome. The publication in the Acta preceded by a few days the nomination by Benedict XVI the preceding Secretary Camille Perl as Vice President of Ecclesia Dei, and of the adjunct Secretary Mario Marini as Secretary.
The Letter, in the form of a Motu Proprio, does not refer to the normal contemporary form, the ordinary form – of the Eucharistic liturgy, which is the one published in the Missale Romanum by Paul VI and then reedited on two occasions by John Paul II; instead this refers to the use of the extraordinary for, which is the one in the Missale Romanum before the Council, published in 1962 on the authority of John XXIII. This doesn’t deal with two different rites, but of a two-fold use of one Roman Rite. "This was the form celebrated", the Columbian Cardinal explained, "that was used for more than 1400 years. This rite, which we could call ‘Gregorian’, inspired the Masses of Palestrina, Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, great cathedrals and marvelous works of painting and sculpture."
"Thanks to the Motu Proprio, not a few people have asked to return to full communion and some have already returned," the President of Ecclesia Dei added. In Spain, the "Oasis of Jesus the Priest", an entire cloistered monastery with thirty sisters guided by their founder, has already been regularized by the Pontifical Commission; also there are groups of Americans, Germans and French on the path to regularization. And finally there are individual priests and many lay people who have contacted us, writing to us and asking us for reconciliation and, on the other hand, there are many other faithful who have manifested their gratitude to the Pope and their pleasure in the Motu Proprio."
Some have accused the Pope of wanting to impose a liturgical model in which language and gestures of the rite seem to be monopolized exclusively by the priest, while the faithful wind up marginalized and thus excluded from a direct relationship with God.
On the occasion of the Baptism of the Lord, for example, Benedict XVI basically celebrate in the Sistine Chapel facing toward the Crucifix. The Pope celebrated in Italian according the ordinary form, that does not exclude, however, the possibility of celebrating toward an altar not versus populum and that foresees also celebration in Latin. Let’s remember that the ordinary form is the Mass that normally all priests priests say, according to the post-Conciliar reform; while the extraordinary for is the Mass from before the liturgical reform which, according to the norms of the Motu Proprio today all can celebrate and was never prohibited.
But some criticisms seem to be coming also from bishops?
A few have problems, but we’re dealing with a few exceptions, because the large part are in agreement with the Pope. Rather, there are showing up some practical difficulties. It is necessary to make this clear: we are not dealing with a return to the past, but rather a progress, because this way we have two riches, instead of one only. Furthermore, this wealth is offered respecting the rights of those who are especially bound to the older liturgy. Here we can get into some problems in a positive sense. For example, it can happen that a priest doesn’t have the training and the adequate cultural sensibility. It’s enough to think about priests who are from areas where the language is far different from Latin. But we aren’t always talking about refusal: it is the presentation of a real difficulty which must be overcome.
Our Commission itself is thinking to organize a form of help for seminaries, dioceses and episcopal conferences. Another facet of the study is to promote multimedia aids for the understanding of and learning of the extraordinary form with all its theological, spiritual and artistic richness bound up also with the old liturgy. Moreover, is seems important that there be involved groups of priests who are already using the extraordinary form, who are offering themselves to celebrate, to demonstrate, to teach celebration according to the 1962 Missale.
So, there isn’t a problem?
It is rather a controversy born from a certain lack of understanding. Some, for example, ask permission, as if we were dealing with a concession or an exceptional case, but there isn’t any need for this. The Pope was clear. It is an error on the part of some and some journalists, to maintain that the use of the Latin language concerns only the older rite, while instead it is foreseen also in the Missal of Paul VI.
Through the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum the Pope offers all priests the possibility of celebrating Mass also in the traditional form and to the faithful to exercise their right to have this rite when there are the conditions specified in the Motu Proprio.
How have groups like the Society of St. Pius X reacted, who refused to celebrate Mass with the Novus Ordo established after Vatican II?
The Lefevbrites from the very beginning affirmed that the old form was never abolished. It is clear that it was never abrogated, even if before the Motu Proprio not a few considered it prohibited. Now, instead, it can be offered for all the faithful who wish it according as it is possible. But it is also clear that if there are not priests who are adequately prepared, it can’t be offered, because we are dealing with not only with the Latin language, but also knowledge of the old rite as such. Finding some quiet time today is for our culture a necessity which is not only religious. I remember I that as a bishop I participated in a course for high level management, where they spoke of the need for managers to have at their disposition a semi-dark room in which they could sit and think things over before making decisions. Silence and contemplation are necessary attitudes even today, above all when dealing with the mysteries of God.
Eight months have passes since the promulgation of the document. Is it true that it has aroused agreement also in other ecclesial entities?
The Pope offered to the Church a treasure which is spiritual, cultural, religious and Catholic. We received letters of agreement also from prelates of Orthodox Churches, from Anglican and Protestant faithful. Also, there are some priests of the Society of St. Pius X who, individually, are seeking regularization of their position. Some of them have already signed a formula of adhesion. We are informed that there are traditionalist lay faithful, close the Society, who have begin to attend Masses in the old rite offered in the churches of their dioceses.
How is return to "full communion" possible for people who are excommunicated?
The excommunication regarded only the four bishops, because they were ordained without the mandate of the Pope and against his will, while the priests are only suspended. The Mass they celebrate is without question valid, but not licit and, therefore, participation is not recommended, at least when on Sunday there are not other possibilities. Certainly neither the priests nor the faithful are excommunicated. I would like to underscore the importance of clear understanding of these things to be able to judge them correctly.
Aren’t you worried that the attempt to bring into the Church men and women who don’t recognize the Second Vatican Council might not provoke a distancing of the faithful who instead see Vatican II as a compass by which we navigate the barque of Peter, above all in these times of continuous change?
Above all the problem about the Council is not, in my opinion, as grave as it would seem. In fact, the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, with their head Mons. Bernad Fellay, have expressly recognized Vatican II as an Ecumenical Council and Mons. Fellay underscored this in a meeting with John Paul II, and more explicitly in an audience of 29 August 2005 with Benedict XVI. Nor can we forget that Mons. Marcel Lefebvre signed all the documents of the Council.
I think that their criticism of the Council regarding above all the clarity of some texts, in the absence of which the road to interpretations out of accord with traditional doctrine is opened up. The biggest difficulties are of an interpretive nature or they have to do with some gestures on the ecumenical plane, but not with the doctrine of Vatican II. We are dealing with theological discussions, which can have their place within the Church, where in fact there exist different discussions of interpretation of conciliar texts, discussion which can go on also with groups who return to full communion.
So, the Church is reaching out a hand, even through this Motu Proprio on the old liturgy?
Yes, without question, because it is precisely in the liturgy that the meaning of catholicity is expressed and that is the source of unity. I very much like the Novus Ordo which I celebrate daily. I had not celebrated according to the Missal of 1962 after the post-conciliar liturgical reform. Today, in taking up again sometimes the extraordinary rite, I also have discovered the richness of the old liturgy which the Pope wanted to maintain as living, preserving that centuries old form of the Roman tradition.
We must never forget that the supreme point of reference in the liturgy, as in life, is always Christ. Therefore we are not afraid, even in liturgical ritual, to direct ourselves toward Him, toward the Crucifix, together with the faithful, to celebrate the holy Sacrifice, in an unbloody way, as the Council of Trent defined the Mass.