A FRENCH prelate reacts to Summorum Pontificum

Here is an interesting change of pace from ZENIT.  A FRENCH prelate reacts well to the Motu Proprio.

My emphases and comments.

French Prelate Welcomes "Summorum Pontificum"

Cardinal Barbarin: Document Invites Reconciliation

ROME, JULY 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has made a clear gesture to traditionalists so that division does not become irreparable schism, says a French cardinal.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon and the primate of France, wrote this in "An Invitation for Reconciliation," a reflection on Benedict XVI’s liturgical document, "Summorum Pontificum."

"To understand the Pope’s decision" to write this letter, explained Cardinal Barbarin, "we remember what he shared with the cardinals just after his election."

"While the doors of the Sistine Chapel were still closed," the cardinal said, "Benedict XVI explained the choice of his name. Referring to Benedict XV, the great craftsman of peace, he said, ‘I would like to live, above all, a pontificate of reconciliation and peace.’

"Today, the Pope thinks that if we don’t make a gesture now, the division with the traditionalists will become an irreparable schism."

"He confirms, therefore, John Paul II’s preparations in this regard: If they want to stay faithful to Rome, they know the doors are open to them and that their attachment to the older liturgy is not an obstacle." [Oui! That’s about right. ]

New element

Cardinal Barbarin says the only new element in "Summorum Pontificum" "is the decision to comply with the wishes of the faithful, depending henceforth on the priests’ authority."  [YES YES YES.  I have been saying that the MP doesn’t have much that is new in it.  However, it develops the rights of priests and the faithful.  In this respect the document is unique.]

He explained: "As John Paul II had done for the bishops in 1988, Benedict XVI invites priests to welcome ‘voluntarily the requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal edited in 1962.’

"Additionally, the Pope invites traditionalists to recognize the value and the sanctity of the Roman Missal instituted by Paul VI.

"The priests attached to the liturgy from before Vatican II, such as those of the Institute of the Good Shepard, the Fraternity of St. Peter, or in the Society of St. Pius X, will certainly be touched by this strong demand of Benedict XVI."  [Welllll…… what about parish priests?]

"Bishop Felley, himself, responsible for the Society of St. Pius X, said it was impossible to be Catholic and continue to be separated from Rome," added the 56-year-old prelate.

Cardinal Barbarin continued: "This will be, therefore, true progress for the unity [of the Church] if they agree to recognize ‘the value and the holiness’ of Paul VI’s Missal, that with which I have celebrated Mass every day since my ordination. [Perhaps His Eminence will now willingly experience what it is to use also the extraordinary form.]

"Benedict XVI asks everyone to penetrate the divine and sacred dimension of the Eucharist. For my part, I hope that all will reread attentively the constitution of Vatican II on the liturgy. [Alas, we must say that, for many, "read for the first time".] This will be the best way to bring unity, always fragile in the Church." [I don’t have such a dire view, but it is without question that we have in the history of the Church we have seen horrible divisions.  But, really, we have emerged stronger from them once they were healed.   I think the Church’s unity is resilient and flexible.]

Expression of faith

"In effect," the cardinal explained, "the liturgy is an essential expression of the faith of the Church according to the well known principle, ‘lex orandi, lex credendi.’

"The celebration of the Eucharist gathers together all of the paschal mystery.

"We always pass it, but it is the time of joy of Holy Thursday — communion; the drama of Holy Friday –sacrifice; and the mystery of the Resurrection on Easter morning — presence. In sum, it is essential for our faith."

"My hope," he remarked, "is that this clear gesture of the Holy Father will lead the reticent to rediscover the texts of the Council." [YES!   The Pope is aiming at a hermeneutic of continuity.  To obtain this, we have to read the documents.]

Cardinal Barbarin concluded, "We always need to go deeper into these teachings. I regard them as the source for renewal and unity in the Church."

In the balance, this was very good indeed.  I think the Cardinal got some of the most important points exactly right.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Kris says:

    Fr. Z,

    Could a parish pastor celebrate the Extraordinary form by simply his own decision without any number of requests by the faithful as a means to familiarize or instruct the people so that they really understand just what the choice is for them? The bishop of Burlington, VT seems to be doing just that:


  2. Robert says:

    Wasn’t Cardinal Barbarin himself something of a traditionalist–a Lefebvre disciple even–in his youth, before the events of 1988?

  3. Michael J. Houser says:

    Adveniat Regnum Tuum!

    Very encouraging. But what does it mean referring to the Cardinal as “primate of France”? I didn’t know such a title existed in France, especially associated with Lyons. I suppose it makes sense, given the antiquity of that see (St. Irenaeus was its bishop, after all.) Is Lyon in fact considered a primatial see?

  4. Various French bishops have primatial titles (I suppose you could call them courtesy titles), but “primate of France” isn’t one of them.

    The archbishop of Lyons is “primat des Gaules”, which could be translated, by analogy with the usages for Armagh and Canterbury (both of which predate the reformation), “primate of all Gaul”. If that sounds too much like the “Comme le prévoit” method of translation, or if you don’t like the assonance, leave off the “all”. But “Gauls” makes it sound like the French was “gaulois”. The cathedral in Lyons is known as “la primatiale Saint-Jean.”

    The archbishop of Rouen (my local ordinary) is primate of Normandy, the archbishop of Rennes is primate of Brittany, and the bishop of Nancy is primate of Lorraine. I think there are other primatial titles in the south.

    The archbishop of Rheims isn’t a primate, but he has the right to consecrate the king, and is the first peer of France.

  5. Jenny Z says:

    I wish we’d hear something here in Dallas. It hasn’t been mentioned at Mass, I can’t find anything about it on the Diocese of Dallas website… :(

  6. Monica says:

    An editorial in the Richmond, Virginia Diocesan newspaper today(July 16)does not seem to view this Motu Proprio favorably:

    “Those ordained after 1965 were never trained in the seminary to celebrate the rite which has limited appeal. Most would be reluctant to want to say Mass with their backs to the congregation — a mandatory rule of the rite.” The editorial quotes a priest referring to this situation as “a real pain in the neck” and further states “hopefully this will not happen in the Diocese of Richmond.” Ironically after stating “some Church leaders are concerned that in reaching out to this minority, he may alienate the larger number of Catholics who like Mass as it is” at the end of the editorial he reminds us that “As in all things, let us all practice charity.”


Comments are closed.