Presser statement of Card. Ricard on “Tridentine Mass”

There was a presser for the meeting of the French bishops in plenary session at Lourdes and Jean-Pierre Card. Ricard of Bordeaux, President of the Conference and a member of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" made a statement to the gathered journalists about the "Tridentine Mass" (my translation, emphasis and comments).

"This has taken on unreal proportions" (une dimension fantasmatique), the Cardinal remarked: "principally because Latin never disappeared, [Oh yah? On my planet it has.] and on the other hand because the Mass of Paul VI is sometimes said in Latin, notably in certain monasteries, [So if you want Latin and you are not a Benedictine monk, you’re pretty much hosed.] and finally because there is no question of imposing the Tridentine Mass on all of the faithful! [You mean like the way the Novus Ordo was imposed?] Briefly, we are not dealing with a regression. The question is to know if it is right to expand the conditions under which the Mass with the 1962 Missal may be celebrated," he continued, [I remember JP2 saying something back in 1988 about "wide and generous" and "by my apostolic authority".] before recalling his meeting on 26 October with Pope Benedict XVI.

"His desire is to do all in his power to put an end to the Lefevbrite schism. He knows that the more years that pass, the more the relations will draw farther apart and positions will harden. [Sooooo….. should we do something about that fairly soon?] The Pope desires to what is possible to reach a hand out and that a welcoming attitude be shown, at least to those who are of good will and who manifest a deep desire for communion." A wish which does not call back into question attachment to the Second Vatican Council. "No, the Church does not change course.. Contrary to the intentions of certain people claim to him, Pope Benedict XVI does not intend reverse the cours of that Second Vatican Council gave to the Church. He is seriously committed to it."

Cardinal Ricard insisted on the Pope’s desire not to short circuit consultation. "The Motu Proprio project will be the object of various consultations. As of now, we can communicate our fears and hopes." [Mostly fears that traditionalists might actually obtain a voice in the Church and hopes that they don’t?]

Many years ago the Pope wrote that “[n]ot every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis many of them have been just a waste of time”. Furthermore, “the last word about the historical value of Vatican Council II has yet to be spoken.” (in Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, tr. Sister Mary Frances McCarthy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press 1987), p. 378; originally Theologische Prinzipienlehre (Erich Wewel Verlag, Munich 1982).)

By quoting Ratzinger on the value of the Council, I am in no way saying that I think the Second Vatican Council was a "waste of time".

However, do you get the feeling that there is a kind funnel vision, narrower even than tunnel vision about the Second Vatican Council, as if that meeting were the be all and end all of everything ever possible for the Church?

There were Councils and Catholic life before Vatican II. The idea that Vatican II didn’t result in everything good and happy for the Church terrifies some people, right down to their toes. The suggestion that we may need to recover something of what we lost is the nightmare that wakes them screaming in the night.

Have their lives been wasted on a chimera? Many good things can be gleaned from the Council, but not all possible good things. It is okay to refer to the past in a positive way. It’ll be okay.

We desperately need, as the Holy Father has said a "hermeneutic of continuity" rather than one of "rupture".

The effort of Pope Benedict in regard to the "Tridentine" Mass aims in two directions. First, a future direction of the healing of a still fairly recent schism. Card. Ricard mentioned that. Also, avoiding as much as possible a future series of mini-schisms which will surely arise. Second, reintegrating the present liturigical practices of the Church with a healthy attachment to the past, such that a fruitful future liturgical life of the Church will develop in a nature way.

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  1. Jeff says:

    This topic is starting to make me feel uneasy again. Le Figaro reported that Cadinal Ricard was headed to Rome to rework the first draft of the liberalization of the TLM. The first draft? This sounds different from everything else we’ve heard. Father, please tell me we’re not being set up for yet another disappointment?!


  2. Leopold says:

    Let us pray for Pope Benedict XVI.!
    and pro missa tridentina!

    Sanctus Pius V. – Ora pro eum! Ora pro nobis!

  3. I have to say, the photoshopped “Scream” is awesome.

  4. Mike says:

    In the spirit of ecuemenism I suggest SSPX have a hand in one of those
    drafts. (little do they know that they are playing right into his hands.
    Right? Right?).


  5. Henry Edwards says:


    My reaction is a bit different, namely, that this may be the first tangible proof that a motu proprio on the TLM really is forthcoming, that it actually will see the light of day, and that we all will see it in due course. And with a document that various people have undoubtedly worked on, it’s unimportant what Arabic numeral is attached (and by whom) to the current draft.

    Card. Ricard would not be assuring his French confreres that he himself is going to Rome to represent them in the construction of this document if he did not know that it is to be. Of course, the final drafter will be Benedict himself and, having played his part, Card. Ricard will return to France explaining that he did his best. And, as Father Z has (at least implicitly) pointed out, it’s more important that this be done well than that it be done tomorrow (or Saturday).

    And what better than to coopt the French into getting it done right. I see the appointment of Cardinal Ricard to the PCED to play this role as a stroke of genius by a Pope who’s played around with these levers long enough to know how to work them.

  6. Kurt says:

    Thank you, Henry, for those encouraging and calm words. There has been much hysteria lately on the blogosphere–understandably so. If we look at this rationally, however, we have to keep in mind that Cardinal Ricard is only one member of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. I think much of it depends on how Cardinal Hoyos runs the meeting(s) and then ultimately the Holy Father himself. Incidentally, who are the other members of the Ecclesia Dei Commission?

  7. Kurt says:

    I am sorry, I should have referred to his Emminence as “Cardinal Castrillon” or “Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos.”

  8. Jon says:

    I just sat down to the computer after returning from morning Mass (Novus Ordo).

    Not fifteen minutes ago, as I was praying my thanksgiving, a retired couple walked down my pew where I was kneeling. “Excuse me,” the wife whispered, “but we remember a few months ago when you told several of us that the Latin Mass is still being offered in Harrisburg. Is that right?”

    “Yes, ma’am.”

    “Well, my husband and I would like to go. You said the High Mass is the first Sunday of the month, I recall.”

    “Yes, ma’am, the next one will be December 3rd.”

    “And,” she paused, turning to her husband, then turning back to me, “we can bring our old Missals, and they’ll work?”

    “Yes, ma’am, you sure can.”

    She reached down and squeezed my shoulder. She turned again to her husband, then gazed at me, her face wreathed in a smile. Her husband beamed down at me as well. He nodded eagerly as she replied, “That’s wonderful!”

    There, in a nutshell, is what terrifies them “right down to their toes.”

  9. RBrown says:

    “principally because Latin never disappeared, and on the other hand because the Mass of Paul VI is sometimes said in Latin, notably in certain monasteries”

    * Although Latin is often to be found in certain French monasteries, the same is not true for the US. There are about 50 communites of men in the US that are formed around the Rule of Benedict (Benedictines and Trappists). Of those 50 only one–Clear Creek Priory–has Latin liturgy.

    Further, since 1975, I have never lived anywhere in the US that I could attend a Sunday Latin mass without have to drive at least 10 miles one way.

  10. RBrown says:

    Cardinal Ricard, Bishop Skylstad, and others of their ilk remind me of Donald Rumsfeld. They are heavily invested in a losing situation but lack the wherewithal to find their way out of it.

    Truth is, the Church is a mess, and all these people can offer as a solution is hand-wringing.

  11. RBrown says:

    Let’s try this again:

    *principally because Latin never disappeared, and on the other hand because the Mass of Paul VI is sometimes said in Latin, notably in certain monasteries

    Although Latin is often to be found in certain French monasteries, the same is not true for the US. There are about 50 communites of men in the US that are formed around the Rule of Benedict (Benedictines and Trappists). Of those 50 only one—Clear Creek Priory—has Latin liturgy.

    Further, since 1975, I have never lived anywhere in the US that I could attend a Sunday Latin mass without have to drive at least 10 miles one way.

  12. RBrown says:

    I give up.

  13. John says:

    The comment that speaks to multiple fragmentation should SSPX people be unable to re-enter has been not yet been commented on above.

    This is not just a trowaway line. In my mind also this is a real possibility. In fact, it has happened already, ad hoc, in a random fashion in many places. In LA it has been done at the order of the Ordinary, Cardinal Mahoney. If you think about it only protestant churches used to multiply in this fashion. But the Novus Ordo is close enough of a Protestant creation. No wonder it fractures so easily.

  14. The problem is not the Second Vatican Council, the problem is how the actual
    documents of VII have been misinterpreted. Frequently, by people who have
    not bothered to actually read any of the documents but have let themselves be
    led astray by the hermaneutic of wishful thinking.

    How about a blog called: “What Did Vatican II Really Say?”

  15. Henry Edwards says:

    Further, since 1975, I have never lived anywhere in the US that I could attend a Sunday Latin mass without have to drive at least 10 miles one way.

    Only 10 miles? That must be what’s meant by the term “heavenly liturgy”.

    Only in the last year have I had to drive less than 20 miles to get to a Latin Mass. Previously (since the mid 1990’s) it was at least 75 miles each way (but sometimes available only monthly). Prior to that, it was hundreds of miles.

  16. RBrown says:

    NB: I said AT LEAST 10 miles.

  17. RBrown says:

    The following is from Gaudium et Spes: “Everything must be done to make everyone conscious of the right to culture and the duty he has of developing himself culturally and of helping others.”

    Any Baptized Catholic has a right to good priests. Further, according to the principles of Veterum Sapientia, any Baptized Catholic has a right to Latin liturgy.

    And so these bishops who deprive the faithful of both are, despite their invocation of G&S, conspiring to deprive us of our rights.

  18. Visitor says:


    Your comments are right on tack!

    No good can come out of “dialogue” with the men who are set on destroying Tradition. I hope that in the end the Holy Father only changes things are that are incidental and not substantial.

    Otherwise, “Quo Vadis Veritas?”

  19. Jim McMurrry says:

    “NB: I said AT LEAST 10 miles.:

    Some suggest that is a good reason to move one’s residence and get closer, hoping for a “community” near that agreeable church.
    We drive about that far each Sunday and have talked about moving closer, but there would then be a long drive to work.
    Tough decisions have to be made.
    Closer to the church could mean easy DAILY mass attendance, with a longish commute.

  20. Alex says:

    Let us not despair. Times are hard and things are difficult, but have confidence in Divine Providence. God reigns the earth. He will provide.

    He also sees through the double-speak and errors of these French bishops. Even secular rulers had to submit to the reign of Christ, even unbelievers (I am presuming Cardinal Ricard is nót).

    Let’s not complain, but pray instead. And let every Priest who is aware of the difficulties
    with the Novus Ordo and the negative influence it has had, return to or remain with
    the “Tridentine” (Roman Rite) Mass of the saints. And celebrate it. Every Priest has got that right anyway. Whether a Universal Indult comes by or not.

    Rex es tu?

  21. Father Ethan says:

    I was at my local deanery meeting the other day and one priest complained about the new rule regarding purification of sacred vessels by the laity and then another priest complained about the Classical Mass in our diocese and then another priest complained that the Church is moving backwards. I just wanted to shout, “the 70’s are over!!!” Of course I sat there, smiled, and didn’t say anything. Of the 16 priests at the meeting, only three of us are under the age of 40.

  22. Jeff says:

    Henry Edwards nails it again!

    Yes, the Pope knows what he’s doing and he’s a master of persuasion. The signs are all good…we knew in the beginning something major would happen and those of us who understood Ratzinger and knew how he worked never had a doubt about it.

    Benedict is a truly religious man who trusts God more than he trusts himself. How rare among Catholics! I want to be like him when I grow up. ;-)

  23. Garrett says:

    Well, posters, the closest Catholic parish to my home is 30 miles – and it’s Novus Ordo! It’s 70 miles to the closest Tridentine Mass, but thankfully it’s St. Francis de Sales in Mableton, GA, which is totally Tridentine in everything from Confession to blessing sacramentals.

  24. Paul Haley says:

    Vatican II was hijacked by the modernists and respect for Tradition was lost in the aftermath of the council. Our Holy Father is trying to put things back on course. He deserves to know he has our support.

  25. Argent says:

    I’m with Q, I love the cardinal scream.

  26. Fr. Totton says:

    Someone above wrote that Clear Creek is the ONLY monastery in the U.S. that has a latin liturgy I believe that the Abbey at Fall River, Mass also uses Latin in a near exclusive manner (but according to the revised rites)

  27. I also love the Cardinal Scream!

    I admire Benedict who keeps his eyes fixed on God whilst the politics swirls around him. What separates him from almost every one else around him is that he is prophetic: he understands fully what is at stake and what is needed for the increase of God’s kingdom. He never waivers from that.

    In contrast, most of the bishops of the Church.

    Remember the ringing endorsement the Synod of Bishops last year gave to the “renewal” of the Liturgy following on Vatican II? It was the first item in their prepared statement. Reminded me of the Emporer’s New Clothes. Countless ecclesiastical careers (I am choosing my words carefully) have been built on the premise that Vatican II marked a new beginning. Father Ethan, yes, how many times have we heard from these men “We don’t want to go back to the old ways”.

    This vast ecclesiastical network will not die easily: but it will die. In the meantime, let’s keep praying for the Pope and try to embrace his confidence in the future!

    It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness (Confucius)

  28. Tim says:

    On the question of proper liturgy: you ought to see this, from Orange county:

    Halloween mass in costume, with the Priest dressed as Barney:

  29. Tim Ferguson says:

    RBrown, actually, the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank, just outside of Sparta, Wisconsin, celebrates the liturgy primarily in Latin as well (Novus Ordo, readings in English; at Matins, the second reading in English – everything else, Latine modo, chanted), and the follow the rule of St. Benedict. That doesn’t at all invalidate you point (2 out of 50 is still abysmal), but in the interest of setting the record straight, and perhaps getting some folks directed towards that Abbey, I submit their website. They also sell (to support the abbey) printer cartridges and office supplies.

  30. Adam van der Meer says:

    There is a new Carmelite monastery in Wyoming also that is attached to the (approved/indult) Tridentine Mass.

  31. Tim (not Ferguson): And you know that all the people involved would argue against the older form of Mass because it would be “divisive”.

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