Card. Ricard: resist “à la carte religion”

Once again we thank Rorate for a translation of paragraph #6 at the end of the closing talk Card. Ricard gave for the end of the meeting of the French bishops. It concerned the "Tridentine" thing. Big surprise. Here is my translation of the same together with the paragraph immediately before (#5). My emphasis and comments.

5) We know quite well the disputes with the faithful who have followed [Archbp.] Lefevbre in his "No" to Rome are not primarily liturgical, [For most, I bet it is liturgical.] but theological – concerning religious liberty, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue – and politics. But all the same we do not want minimize the importance of the liturgy which is at the heart of ecclesial life. In this regard we thank those who were formed, who contributed to the quality of our liturgies and who enable us to have, in many places, celebrations that are beautiful, prayful, joyous and recollected. [D’accord! When you can find them!]

6) We want to pursue the reception of those who retain an attachment to the so-called Mass of "St. Pius V". A diversity is possible. But it must be regulated. This comes from the unity of the liturgy and the unity of the Church. One musn’t leave the choice of one of the forms of the Roman rite – the Mass of “Saint Pius V” or the Mass of “Paul VI” to one’s subjectivity alone. [Going out farther onto the thin limb….] A Church in which each person would build his own chapel according to his personal tastes, his sensibility, his choice of liturgy or his political opinions could not still be the Church of Christ. It is necessary today to resist the temptation of an "à la carte religion". [CRACK! You mean… "the cafeteria is closed"!?? I fully expect now that the French bishops will begin their work on curbing individualist "subjectivity" ] As bishops, with the Holy Father and under his authority, we are ready to watch over the unity and the communion in the bosom of our local Churches and among our Churches.

First, the tone here is far more positive toward the traditionalist problem than the early reporting might have suggested it cold be. However, the content cuts both ways. In justice both sides, traditionalists and progressives must be treated even handedly. What might be the reason for the more positive sound here? Does it come from the fact that the bishops now have a game plan (for good or ill)? Or is this Ricard’s way of delivering the game plan, whether they want it or not?

Second, there is an ecumenical thing here. Notice the end: "communion in the bosom of our local Churches and among our Churches." This must refer to the individual diocese in France, but perhaps then also other Catholic Churches or the Orthodox, etc. Easter Christianity binds much of its identity to their liturgical rites. What must they think about dialogue with Latins who treat those who want traditional liturgy so badly?

Third, many who are not French don’t grasp how this traditionalist thing is tied into French politics. I suspect the French bishops are not terribly conservative. So, they must be really nervous and irritated at dealing with the French traditionalists, for whom traditionalism is often highly political. Still, that point can’t hold up the whole world, right?

Many of the things the Cardinal says really, in justice, have to be applied also to the liberal lefties and their "cafeteria Catholicism". It would be intolerable for them after all this not to begin working also to rein in the progressivist subjectivity.

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  1. Fr Gregoire Fluet says:

    One of the problems here remains that the French Bishops do not represent the universal Church. The issue of French politics and the Classic Rite is all well and good, but that is not a problem of the Universal Church, and frankly is more of a local historic problem in France, of Royalists verse DeGaulists today. The biggest problem here that is not being addressed by Cardinal Ricard and his fellow Bishops is the issue of the “hermeneutic of discontinuity.” Are we the same Church before and after Vatican II? Use of the Classic Rite helps to point to the theological reality that we are. One leading theologian argued definitively for the “hermeneutic of continuity,” and that was Joseph Ratzinger. And on December 22 as Pope he offered a teaching on the issue. That is an issue of the Universal Church and it is difficult to see how the Church cannot benefit from a broader usage of the Classic Rite along side the Rite of Paul VI and even a reform of the Reform.

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    “the disputes ….. are not primarily liturgical [For most, I bet it is liturgical.] but theological”

    Actually, I believe that, if not theological, they are at least based in doctrinal differences rather than mere differences of opinion about most effective liturgical practices.

    For instance, whether to kneel or not really depends not upon one’s reading of some rubric, but upon one’s belief about the Eucharist and the meaning of the Mass.

    Therefore, I sometimes wonder whether these endless liturgical debates aren’t mere placeholders or stand-ins whose purpose is mainly to avoid the elephant in the living room – the fact that some believe and some don’t (e.g., in the real presence, the Mass as propitiatory sacrifice for sin, etc.).

    If so, would it be better for the Church to treat the disease rather than merely its symptoms?

  3. Fr Gregoire Fluet: Excellent comment.

  4. Brian says:

    I find it strange that the Bishop is against subjectively choosing how to say Mass. That is one of the built-in features of the Mass of Paul VI, is it not?

    It would seem more likely to have the priest subjectively saying something different from another priest with Paul VI’s Mass than a priest just deciding to say the Tridentine Mass this week based on a coin toss.

  5. Siobhan says:

    Excellent commentary as usual, Fr. Z. The French bishops are far more than merely political liberals. They live and believe an expression of religion that denies the power of God and His just demands, and the religion they present is built upon a hermeneutic of suspicion that is irreconcilable with the Catholic Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That they are bishops at all is scandal enough, but wait five to ten years and they will preside over a numerical nothing and the SSPX and the Abbe de Nantes and others will account for anyone who is recognizably Catholic in France.

    To paraphrase the Scripture, these French bishops keep the form of religion but deny the power of God at every turn. They are a black hole in the constellation of the Catholic Church.

  6. Philip Sandstrom says:

    A thought in response to your comment of ‘where are they to be found’ in point #5
    above. You might look in at the daily celebrations of the liturgy at the Church of
    St. Gervais – St. Protais — just behind the City Hall in the middle of Paris.
    There the Monastic Community of Jerusalem celebrates the liturgy according to the
    Roman Missal as approved by Paul VI with a church full of people even on cold
    dark winter mid-week days. As far as I know the same liturgy is celebrated equally
    well in all the places where this community has places — for example: Vezelay,
    Mont St. Michel, the parish of St. Gilles in Brussels, and even S. Trintita dei
    Monte in Rome. Though this community (which is composed of men and women living
    in separate houses is monastic, they see themselves as ‘monks and nuns in the
    city’ and they live and work in ordinary parishes which they make better by their

  7. Paul Haley says:

    The Cardinal seems to be saying that the Traditional Rite and the Novus Ordo cannot exist simultaneously and that the liturgy cannot be divided into separate paths – one traditional and one modern or that the choice of liturgy should not be an option according to personal preference. Although many traditionalists might agree with this assessment based on the fact that the traditional rite should reign supreme, the Cardinal’s comments appear to fly in the face of the entire Ecclesia Dei movement and, in fact, the creation of the apostolic administration of St. John Marie Vianney in Brazil. Do not these two forms of the liturgy exist side-by-side in Brazil? Do not indult-Mass locations exist side-by-side with their novus ordo counterparts (but not, unfortunately in all fullness).

    The real issue here is the refusal to give the Traditional Rite its due with some bishops attempting to retain control without offering the Traditional Rite in all its fullness. What are they afraid of? We know – they are afraid that their refusal will be seen for what it is when catholics see what they have been missing for 40 plus years.

    Right after the 2nd Ecclesia Dei letter from Pope Paul II was released in 1988 I asked a local bishop (who shall remain nameless) if he would grant permission for the TLM in the diocese. His response to me was: “Not unless my presbyterial council asked me for it”. But, he knew full well that this would not happen because the priests had long since given up any resistance to the novus ordo in favor of the Mass in which they were ordained (speaking of elderly priests). This is the same resistance we are fighting today and that the holy father is being confronted with at this moment. Let us hope he will be firm and not give in

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    If you go to the New York Anglo-Catholic parish web site

    and scroll (way)down to the very bottom under ‘A Few Church Impressions’ you find an interesting account of visits to SSPX and mainstream Catholic churches in Paris. In short, the author seems to find the traditionalist church vibrant and alive, the establishment church dying if not already almost dead.

    “Again, the church [which seats perhaps 900] was filled to overflowing with many people standing throughout. Again, large numbers of young people, children and families, virtually all of whom had brought their own Latin-French missals and were following along making responses. They were fully engaged in the service and there was no air of a museum rite being offered for a specialised audience. This is a living parish church. ….. These were ordinary Parisians, practising Catholics, who felt passionately that the traditional rites spoke to them more deeply than the modern Novus Ordo church ways.”

  9. Felpe says:

    I found strange too, the demand of the bishop that the people do not make a “subjective election” of the mass to which they want to attend and of how to build their chapels. He is describing the present situation of the Church.

    If Rorate Caeli do not make another photo-post, i will do it in my blog :)


  10. fr.franklyn says:

    I went to the website of the Church of the Resurection in New York and read the article.Someone oughtto sent it to Pope Benedict.Issue the indult and imediately advance ecmenucal relations with the high church party of the Anglican Curch and with the entire Ortodox Church.

  11. Terry Carlino says:

    I find the “either or” mentality quite tiring. Celebrating the Novus Ordo is not a license for picking and choosing how to say Mass, that it has become so in some places bespeaks a lack of pastoral leadership on the part of some bishops, and is not a reflection of either the beauty or reverence of a properly celebrated NO Mass.
    The parish I attend often intermixes Latin and English liturgical music in the Novus Ordo. Our priest is very careful to follow the proper. Eucharistic Ministers have not assisted with purification of Eucharistic vessels since 2002. All Eucharistic prayers are from the Sacramentary. Yes we have a youth Mass, which uses modern music, which meets the requirement of being reverent and based on scripture. Each month we have adoration capped by XLT. Belief in the real presence is not weak in this parish. No all parishes where the NO is used are filled with heretical practices.
    I don’t see father being disturbed by a wider availability of the Traditional Rite, though I doubt he would practice it. His Latin is practically non-existant, a case with many of the priests of his generation. I could easily see him permitting a visiting priest to celebrate under that rite, were the indult expanded.

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