The Remnant vs Archbishop Ranjith

If there were ever a concrete demonstration that the traditionalist dimension of the Church tends, as I often say, to attract the sort of person who is happy only when he is unhappy, (but not exclusively, thanks be to God) it would be the The Remnant, a newspaper which is quite literally related to the paper for which I write each week, The Wanderer. As we can say with any paper, sometimes The Remnant gets it right and their articles are pretty insightful. Often, well…

In another entry on this blog a commentor said something about an article by Christopher A. Ferrara in The Remnant:

However, in The Remnant (July 31), in the same I Media interview with Archbishop Ranjith, it was reported: “In the end, the people will assist at [attend] the Tridentine Mass and our churches [the New Mass] will empty,” this according to Archbishop Ranjith himself. That quote was not mentioned in CWR. Wonder why?

The Remnant made a big deal out of this. Indeed, it is an amazing thing to read and there is sharped steel within it.

However, in a millisecond, you will very correctly wonder if that could really have been what Archbishop Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments actually said.

The answer: yes and no.

The source for the quote was an interview I-Media did with Archbishop Ranjith, in French. Here is a LINK to the whole text. Here is the part in question:


Q.: Les abus liturgiques sont-ils réellement si nombreux ?

R.: Chaque jour, nous recevons tellement de lettres, signées, où les gens se lamentent des nombreux abus : des prêtres qui font ce qu’ils veulent, des évêques qui ferment les yeux ou, même, justifient ce que font leurs prêtres au nom du ‘renouveau’… Nous ne pouvons pas nous taire. Il est de notre responsabilité d’être vigilants. Car, à la fin, les gens vont assister à la messe tridentine et nos églises se vident. La messe tridentine n’appartient pas aux Lefebvristes. C’est le moment de cesser les affrontements et de voir si nous avons été fidèles aux instructions de la Constitution conciliaire Sacrosanctum Concilium . C’est pourquoi il faut de la discipline pour ce que nous faisons sur l’autel. Les règles sont bien indiquées dans le Missel romain et les documents de l’Eglise.

Q:. Are liturgical abuses really so numerous?

A: Everyday we get signed letters in which people complain about numerous abuses: by priests who do whatever they want, about bishops who close their eyes to them or, similarly, justify what their priests do in the name of "renewal"… We can’t be silent. It is our responsibility to be vigilant. Because, in the end, people will go to attend the Tridentine Mass and our churches will empty. The Tridentine Mass does not belong to Lefebvrites. It is high time to stop confrontations and to see if we have been faithful to the instructions of the conciliar Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium. This is why what we do at the altar takes discipline. The rules are clearly indicated in the Roman Missal and the documents of the Church.

So, what does Archbishop really say? He is pointing to liturgical ABUSES.

Abuses are by definition not part of the Novus Ordo. Abuses are violations of the rubrics.

Ranjith is saying that if we continue to have violations of the Novus Ordo, violations and abuses of the rite as it is laid down in the rubrics and documents of the Church, then people will drift away from the Church. They could even go to others who are disobedient in a different way: Lefebvrites.

From what Ranjith is saying, if there are celebrations of the Tridentine Mass those celebrations should also follow the proper rubrics. His stong point here is that for the unity of the Church and the good of the people, we have to obey the Church especially in the observance of the rubrics. What is harmful to the Church is not the Novus Ordo as such, but rather the priests and bishops who are not doing their jobs, fulfilling their liturgical responsibilities.

I think it is safe to say that had the Novus Ordo been implemented as it ought to have been, according to the texts and the mind of the Council Fathers, few if any people today would have continued over time to desire the older form of Mass. That is supposition, of course, but it is borne out by personal experience of places which don’t have wacky things going on and the books are followed closely and with an eye to the Roman tradition. Still, far and wide things are wacky and few eyes are turned to tradition. Therefore, we need some corrections. We need to reenvision the Novus Ordo and, especially, how it is to be celebrated through the lens of the older form of Mass.

Bring on the new indult and bring it now!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Fr. John Pecorar says:

    “Bring on the new indult and bring it now!” AMEN!

  2. Father: I agree with your “often, well…” re: The Remnant.

    His Excellency articulated something that I have been thinking about since the
    Indult rumors started.
    Are we going to end up, in essence, splitting the Catholic Church if the Indult is “freed” but the N.O. is not “enforced”?

    The Catholics who cannot stand any kind of liturgical abuse (including myself)are going to attend Tridentine Masses. But, there will be Catholics that will avoid the Tridentine and only go to the N.O.

    I think this is a mistake. I think all Catholics should learn to appreciate
    both but I can’t see that happening.

    I’m not articulating this very well.

    In essence, is there any way for both Catholic camps (N.O. and Tridentiine)
    to get along, or is it hopeless? It would be easier for both to get
    along if the N.O. was properly celebrated. The proper celebration of the N.O.
    is a huge problem. Even if the Vatican releases a document about the N.O. it’s
    still up to the local Bishops to enforce. Sadly, some of our Bishops have
    proven themselves unequal to the task.

  3. Augustine says:

    You make a good point, Father.

    If the Novus Ordo were the “Tridentine” Mass with the several adjustments envisioned by the Council (i.e. perhaps vernacular readings, restoring “Prayer of the Faithful,” etc.) and only those adjustments, there would be no desire for the missal of 1962. It would be like desiring the missals of 1955 or 1570 while one has the missal of 1962–they are essentially the same.

    Instead the content of the Novus Ordo and “Tridentine” Masses are very different, even when celebrated in Latin, ad orientem.

  4. Visitor says:

    I think the release of the Tridentine Mass would be wonderful but I do not think it will solve the liturgical woes. Those who create the abuses in the N.O. will continue to do so if there is a universal indult or not.

  5. Marc Puckett says:

    “We need to reenvision the Novus Ordo and, especially, how it is to be celebrated through the lens of the older form of Mass”.

    Had a conversation after Mass with its celebrant, not too long ago, and, amidst the pleasantries, told him, ‘you know, Father, you really don’t need to tell me ‘good morning’ before you begin with the sign of of the cross’: he looked a bit confused and then realised what I was talking about (he is older and semi-retired, and follows the missal exactly, apart from this–so I know we are far better off than in many places) and replied, as if with a shrug, “but people expect it”. He said it was his “token concession” to… well, to the expectation for ‘liturgical creativity’, I guess. Priests celebrating from the old missal don’t have to deal with such expectations.

  6. Mike says:

    Can we say these times are any less tumoltuous than during the reformation? Is the scourge and development of modernism any less a threat than those events that Trent responded to? This softness of response from the church to contemporary evil is not positive. We are in a war and the enemy must be crushed! V2 has some nice stuff. Salvage what is necessary but so much is mired in the smoke. The Pope’s response while decisive is too modest in scope. The so-called organic development of the Novus Ordo cannot suddenly be reactivated after 35 yr of wild experimentation. We need the courage for a second Trent. The French (European) church is beyond the pale. What- to pussyfoot around these people for another 35 yr while souls are lost? A liberal SSPX? I love B16 – but now he’s got to get out the belt

  7. Anonymous says:

    It seems to me (I am a stupid ignorant person) that the all-vernacular Novus Ordo of Pope Paul VI is not what the Council Fathers envisioned for the liturgy. A complete, radical departure from Latin encouraged as an absolute “better” form of celebration “per se” was never envisioned by the Council. And couldn’t have been. On the contrary! Also, the Novus Ordo, as practiced, is designed to encourage violation of the rubrics. Certain parts of the rubrics are NEVER used by anyone anywhere. And certain parts are defended by our hierarchy (such as the English-only acclamation invented by some musician wich is defended even by the Vox Clara people). In the final analysis one can not expect anything from a mere institutional mandate. We get what people want. Period. Hearts need to change, not “instructions” and “mandates”. And the average folks, by far, prefer the guitars, the vernacular, the violation of the rubrics, female altar servers, eucharistic ministers (not extraordinary if you ask them), and the huge glass goblets of wine with the pizza size host fractured in front of a microphone and the rest of the silly stuff. A pot finds itself a suitable cover. All this talk about some upcoming change is nothing but talk. We don’t have the people to make an effective change. Where are they? Who are they? Visit an average parish incognito and you’ll see what’s going on. It’s pretty hopeless.

  8. Andrew says:

    The above comment posted as “anonymous” but I didn’t want to have it posted that way. Here I’m adding my name to it.

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    This morning I attended a Latin Novus Ordo, much of it chanted, with no vernacular hymns, celebrated in black vestments with absolute fidelity to the rubrics, nothing remotely resembling any kind of abuse, either by celebrant or by any of the congregation (mostly high school students).

    But it was (however beautiful and reverent compared with typical parish fare) far from a traditional Latin Mass. This is one of the best days of the year to see the difference. Just compare the Novus Ordo prayers and readings for today with those for All Souls Day in your 1962 missal to guage what we’ve lost in the past forty years. As I read my old missal this morning before going to new Mass, it occurred to me that I ought to (and did) pray for all the poor souls still in purgatory because while alive on earth they were deprived of the graces that flow from the traditional Mass.

  10. fr.franklyn says:

    Andrew,stupid and ignorant?Not by a long shot.What you wrote is very true and very wise.But I don’t believe the situation is hopeless.The liturgy was in a mess at the end of the first millennium and thencame Cluny,a monastery devoted to liturgical reform and aswerable only to the Holy See.Its influence spread throughout europe and started the liturgical revival of the middle ages.

  11. Maureen says:

    I don’t find the arguments in this thread particularly persuasive. If a parish had Tridentine Masses at some times and Novus Ordo Masses at another and say, Byzantine Rite Masses at yet a third time, people mostly would problabyl attend all three kinds of Masses depending on when the soccer games for their kids were scheduled. There would be some who would find one or the other annoying, and avoid it, but honestly, most people are more concerned to go to Mass than to go to a certain kind of Mass. (Assuming that all things otherwise were equally reverent, that is.)

    We’d want to have more Missals around, of course. :)

  12. stunted says:

    Cath of Alex, you asked: In essence, is there any way for both Catholic camps (N.O. and Tridentiine) to get along, or is it hopeless?

    I think this is a very important question, and I think it is part of the reason a need for some kind of universal indult has been descried. The answer is: There better be. Efforts to ‘get around’ resistance to the 1962 Missal by setting up separate Oratories and parishes run by ICK and FSSP had resulted in a segregation of Catholics that sometimes isn’t healthy for either side. I dearly miss my old Indult parish. One of the three weekend Masses was the 1962 Missal, and one of two on Holy Days. And believe it or not, we did ‘cross-pollinate’ (like Maureen said, sometimes the kid’s soccer game makes the decision for you). More importantly, we drank beer with each other at every Wurstmart and prayed the Rosary together on Saturday mornings at the abortion clinic. Now in our diocese, we have an Oratory under the care of ICK, and it seems to me that another effect of the mixed parish was that each side kept the other litugically ‘honest’. Our 1962 Mass has gotten, shall we say, a bit out of hand. I find myself splitting my attendance between the Oratory and my territorial NO parish and unhappy with both.

  13. fr.franklyn says:

    The two rites can coexist.Pope Benedict as Cardinal Ratzinger addressed that and pointed to the places where the two rites already coexist.For instance ,I have not heard of divisions in St.Mary’s in Washington D.C. where the two rite have coexisted for some time now.I believe it is a fear that is only in the minds of people either who want to stop it or who want it but fear that it would cause disunity. I have come to think that the indult will not have as much an affect as the Apostolic Exhortation has.Think of L.A.They may grudgingly put up with TLM here and there but the Exhortation (if it is a beginning of the reform of the reform) may be harder to take. I predict revolts here and there not over a generous induklt for the TLM but over the implementation of the hoped for whenever it comes Exhortation.Especially if it curtails dancing and sacerdotal theatrics and mandates a minimum of Latin .

  14. tim says:

    I attend an ICK oratory and have found their Masses to be uniformly splendid. I would have a hard time envisioning what stunted could mean by the 1962 Mass getting a bit out of hand.

  15. Jeff says:

    Oh, Father, you’ll catch it hot from some!

    I’m a Neo-Cath who has a deep and abiding respect for tradition and loves the old Mass in general better than the new. I can’t see any reason for restricting it at all, and I think any Latin Catholic worth his salt ought to know it and know it well. I’m an ally of the Trads, if they’ll have me. Often, it seems they won’t! :-D

    I see the differences that Henry Edwards points to. But I confess that I have often been deeply moved by plain-Jane, obedient, follow-the-rubrics Novus Ordo masses in English. At their best they have a swept-clean, unencrusted spirituality, like a Cistercian monastic church compared with Chartres or a Baroque church in Prague.

  16. stunted says:

    Heh – you’re just trying to get me in trouble, aren’t you Tim?

    I’m no expert in matters liturgical. But I would say your description of ‘uniformly splendid’ pretty much fits the bill. The 1962 liturgy is just as open to accusations of ‘over-production’ as the NO. I think ‘splendid’ is great on appropriate occasions. But every Sunday? For example, I object to the use of the 1955 Missal; excessive ring-kissing (particularly noticable during Asperges); a Graduale verse which the choir manages to drag out for five minutes. We had two choirs, one of which did familiar settings which the congregation could join in, the other which essentially ‘performs’ – one guess which choir director was asked to step down? I miss a regular old Benediction, without the addition of various litanies and prayers (and not just because I can’t possibly get my six year old son to behave for over two hours in church). It’s just never a plain, ordinary Mass. I find it spiritually exhausting. (But the homilies are usually incredible.)

  17. fr.franklyn says:

    If you dont like it (the kisses etc) go to another mass .There are people who like splendor every sunday at a high mass.We must not deprive them of that glory.You would have a hard time at an Eastern rite liturgy-there is a lot of kissing going on.

  18. Brian says:


    I am a subscriber to the Remnent. I will admit that some times
    they seem to be over the top. I was once a subscriber to the
    Wanderer, but became discouraged with their party line that
    every bishop was rotten accept the Pope, who had appointed these
    bishops and would do nothing about them. I detected too much
    papaolotry in their editorials.

    But aside from that. Every one speaks of reverent NO Masses
    orientem, etc, but none are available to the faithful. Maybe
    yours but, where else? The Vatican? That is a long trip from
    where we are.

    I am most concerned about my two young boys. They serve at the
    Altar at our FSSP parish. When they travel to California, with
    their mother, they have spoken about how scandalized the are
    at attending the Novus Ordo. “Father doesn’t genuflect to Jesus”
    Father crosses his legs when he is sitting. They have more girls’
    on the Alter than boys. The people receive Holy Communion in
    the hand. When I am trying to pray, people grab my hand.
    People talk in church. People don’t genuflect to Jesus.” One
    my sons told me that Father even came out and shook hands with
    every one. Then he asked me, “isn’t he supposed to keep his
    thumb and finger together? He didn’t do it! My kids are 10 and
    8 years old.”

  19. Diane says:

    Henry Edwards says: But it was (however beautiful and reverent compared with typical parish fare) far from a traditional Latin Mass. This is one of the best days of the year to see the difference. Just compare the Novus Ordo prayers and readings for today with those for All Souls Day in your 1962 missal to guage what we’ve lost in the past forty years. As I read my old missal this morning before going to new Mass, it occurred to me that I ought to (and did) pray for all the poor souls still in purgatory because while alive on earth they were deprived of the graces that flow from the traditional Mass.

    Henry – I know what you mean. All Souls day would come and go and I would sometimes go to the 7:00pm Mass at my parish. I never looked at it as an act of charity to assist at one or two Masses for the poor souls.

    Well, Assumption Grotto – ever a place of reverent and solemn Novus Ordo’s has taught me this. I was mystified when I read in my church bulletin that “Masses would be celebrated consecutively from 6:30am until noon, followed by a 7:00pm Mass”.

    It was wonderful to go to the Grotto for the 6:30am Mass, which had no homily, followed by the 7:00am Mass which Fr. Perrone provided a short homily. It was announced that we could attned as many Masses as we wanted, but could only receive Holy Communion twice.

    Fr. Perrone then began the 7:30am Latin Novus Ordo, with Gregorian Chant as I left.

    And….as you say, black vestments were the rule.

  20. Diane says:

    I should have clarified that i only went sometimes before getting to Grotto.

    The priests at Grotto emphasized heavily how we ought to be praying for the poor souls in purgatory – something rarely heard in parishes today.

    I also meant to comment, Fr. Z – that your clarification of Arch Ranjith’s is indeed helpful. It’s amazing what you get when you put it all in context.

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