The conference for the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum has received some coverage.
For example, there is a highly tendentious and partial piece from AP, predictably from Nichole Winfield.
This is ludicrous and incomplete.
First, I am pretty sure she’s wrong about Pope Francis being “ignored” by the first speakers. (I was there.) She may have not been entirely cognizant of the theme of the conference.
Second, she also seems not to be aware that there was an afternoon session with other speakers, such as Card. Sarah. Note that the photo caption even misspells Card. Sarah’s name. So much for anything accurate or impartial from AP/Winfield.
The next time you see something from her about anything having to do with the Catholic Church, yawn and turn the page.
Another version comes from John Allen of CRUX, who was there. HERE He even mentions what Card. Sarah said about Pope Francis! His story is not what I would have written, but it is not unfair. Some of Allen’s piece with my usual additions:
Sarah, now 72, spoke for almost an hour, and here’s what seems to be the bottom line on where he stands: If anyone expects Sarah now to go gentle into that good night, muting his strenuous defense of liturgical tradition, they can forget it.
Yet equally, if anyone expected Sarah to go to war against his boss, subtly or not-so-subtly suggesting Francis is the problem – as some in the crowd gathered on Thursday have publicly argued he is – they can forget that too.
At several points during his address, Sarah explicitly described Summorum Pontificum as something Benedict initiated and that “Pope Francis has continued.” Never referring to the new motu proprio on translation, Sarah certainly didn’t come anywhere close to criticizing it.
In other words, the take-away seemed to be that Sarah plans to remain precisely what he’s been up to this point – a hero in some ways to the more traditionalist wing of the Church, which gave him loud and sustained applause on Thursday, but not the leader of the in-house opposition. [Perhaps the reason why he is so respected by the “traditionalist wing” is because we have read his books!]
As he often does, Sarah offered a strong plug for celebrating the Mass ad orientem, meaning with both the priest and the people facing East towards the altar, and ultimately, towards God. He called it a gesture that was “almost universally presumed in the antique forms of the Roman rite, rendered freely accessible by Benedict XVI for those who desire to use it.”
However, Sarah said, “this beautiful antique practice, so eloquent about the primacy of the all-powerful God, isn’t restricted just to the antique rite.
“It’s permitted and encouraged, and, I would insist, pastorally advantageous, in the more modern form of the Roman rite.”
On the importance of small things, such as the vessels used during the Catholic Mass, Sarah cited the example of two American seminarians who once brought him the chalice he was to use before Mass and asked him to bless it before they placed it near the altar, calling that a “very moving” touch. [That was a great moment. AND, I must add, something to which the organizers of the conference ought to reflect on. The organizers gave not even a MINUTE of time to American (North or South) speakers in this conference. That was a dreadful slight.]
Taking up the theme of his recent book, Sarah delivered a strong plea for greater silence in worship, calling it “the first act of sacred service.”
Sarah also underlined what he described as the “many young people discovering this liturgical form, who feel attracted by it and find it a form particularly appropriate for them. [That that to Thomas Reese, EthJay.]
“They encounter the mystery of the Holy Eucharist,” Sarah said, “which is more and more a key virtue for them in the modern world.”
Sarah conceded that “many in my generation struggle to understand this,” but insisted that “I can give personal testimony to the sincerity and dedication of this younger generation of priests and laity, and then many good vocations to the priest and consecrated life born in communities using the antique rite.” [Hopefully, superiors and bishops will WAKE UP.]
If anyone doubts that, Sarah urged them to “visit these communities, get to know them, especially the young who are part of them.
“Open your hearts and minds to these young brothers and sisters, and look at the good they do,” he said. “They’re not nostalgic or oppressed by the ecclesiastical battles of recent decades, they’re full of joy to live life with Christ amid the challenges of the modern world.”
Sarah issued a direct appeal to his brother bishops to be open to people attached to the older Mass and more traditional customs and observances. [Everybody wins!]
“These communities need paternal care,” he said, “and we must not allow personal preferences or misunderstandings that keep the faithful away who adhere to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. We bishops and priests are called to be instruments of reconciliation and communion in the Church for all the Christian faithful, and I humbly ask you, in the one faith we have in common and in accord with the words of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, to generously open your hearts to allow in everything the faith offers, and to create space for it.”
Statistically, he conceded, these people may remain “a small part of the life of the Church,” [“growing”] but that, he said, “doesn’t make them inferior or second-class.”
Finally, Sarah issued a challenge to his audience, asking that they stop calling themselves “traditionalists,” and stop allowing others to refer to them that way. [NB]
“You’re not enclosed in a box, or in a library or museum of curiosities,” he said. “You’re not ‘traditionalists.’ You’re Catholics of the Roman rite, like me, like the Holy Father, not second-class citizens in the Catholic Church because of your cult and spiritual practices.” [TRUE! However, “traditional” or “traditionalist” (like liberal and conservative) are handy shorthand.]
Those practices, he pointed out, were also those of “innumerable saints.”
He told the group that it should not become “enclosed or withdrawn into a ghetto, which an attitude of defensiveness dominates, and suffocates your witness to the world of today to which you are sent.
“Ten years later,” he said, referring to the Summorum Pontificum anniversary, “If we haven’t broken the chains of the traditionalist ghetto yet, do it today!” [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]
He goes on to mention some remarks of Card. Müller about translations. That was in interesting moment!