The Novara (Italy) TLM battle continues

Remember the dust up on the Diocese of Novara, Italy, over the implementation of Summorum Pontificum and how some priests are celebrating the older form of Mass in conflict with the wishes of the local bishop?  WDTPRS posted here and here.

Here is a new story from La Stampa. My translation":

Mass in Latin, ultimatum of the bishop to "rebel" priests

Renato Balducci


The three priests who celebrate the Mass in Latin have been invited to leave their parishes "voluntarily".  An ultimatum that might precede the decision of H.E. Renato Corti, Bishop of Novara, to transfer them on his own authority.  At Easter, Fr. Alberto Secci, Fr. Stefano Coggiola and Fr. Marco Pizzocchi could find themselves elsewhere, far from their parishes of Santa Maria Maggiore, Crevoladossola and Nibbiola.  This is how they will pay, if they don’t retreat, for their decision to celebrate to the bitter end Masses always and only in Latin.

The imminent removal of these pastors is arousing protests in Crevoladossola where a group of the faithful have mobilized.  Already in December they wrote, without any result, to Rome, to Dario Card. Castrillòn Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [wow… did they get that wrong!].  Those directly interessted prefer instead to remain silent.  "Today, I am not speaking.  Call me tomorrow," responded Fr. Alberto Secci from Santa Maria Maggiore.  Many of the faithful, including some administrators, entered the fray in his defense, with a petition (signed by over 600 people), sent to the bishop and the Pope.

The tug-of-war started in December when the priests "went on strike" after receiving the letter with which Fr. Piero Cerutti, director of the Diocesan Office for Social Communications, invited them "not to substitute Masses in the ordinary form (in Italian) destined for the whole parochial community."  Fr. Cerutti wrote: "The ordinary form must be guarateed above all on feast days and Sundays".  He wasn’t kept waiting for the response: the priests continued to pray only in Latin.  "We are not juke-box priests" who, this day, say Mass in one way and, another day, in another" the Ossolan (a region) priests replied, more than ever convinced of their position. They are being "help up" by the solidariety of the faithful.

The dialogue hasn’t stopped between the Curia and and the "latinist" priests.  Until now the positions have remained far apart.  For several weeks the Latin "rebels" were substituted by priests sent to say Mass in Italian.  But these substitutions, seen like crossing the picket line, have sparked tensions.  At Vocogno, in the Vigezzo valley, someone even dressed down the vicar of the area, Fr. Luigi Preioni.

Two days ago, letters were sent from the Cura by which the three priests were invited to "forsake" their parishes voluntarily.  The sending of the letters was not confirmed either by the Curia or by the vicar at Ossola.  But the customary "no comment" aren’t calming the polemics – on the contrary.

In Crevoladossola, Marco Tanzarella, in the name of the other faithful, wrote a letter in defense of Fr. Stefano to forestall "that priests be removed from their charges on Holy Thursday, after a painful and vexatious slandering campaign in their regard".  He wrote this, sustaining that he confirmed the imminent transer with the vicar of the area.  Then, Tanzarella’s full-court press: "This is the modern Church, and this is the Church of the 21st century that must retrieve consensus and vocations; perhaps this is the Church that Pope Benedict hoped for in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.  Perhaps not!   This is the arm-chair Church, of chushy posts, and numbers, and priest burocrats who confuse the Gospel with the legder.  The Church hides itself behind the word "change", but it doesn’t really want it, as it brings no advantages, on the contrary it invests it (the Church) even more with the responsibility of the work for the faith it has to carry out.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. Derik Castillo says:

    I pray that the bishop learns that he is not to use force
    to govern a diocese, but with love and good example. He
    should realize how important is to tend for those attached
    to the EF. I also pray that priests learn that it is possible
    to use both forms of Mass.

  2. Patronus says:

    While I think the diocesan administration may be being too heavy-handed and unresponsive to the desires of a parish community as a whole, I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with their basic request that not all the Masses be XF (I’m assuming they’re talking about XF). And if there is one family at a parish who wants the OF, that seems sufficient enough reason to keep it in some capacity (since it’s the OF, after all). Moreover, what is seems these pastors are doing is setting up de facto personal parishes – but wouldn’t that require the Bishop’s canonical permission?

    I know someone’s going to comment and say that the pastors are being prevented from catering to the vast majority of their people. Again, that may be true. But, as was said when this story was commented on a couple months back, I still think there’s not enough information about what’s really going on in the internal dialogue of this situation – and we may never know. Both sides may be acting as jerks.

  3. Tom says:

    I am actually personally acquainted with the situation of one of the villages concerned (Garbagna, where Fr. Pizzocchi
    is the parish priest). The problem is that for quite some time he has refused (and apparently he still does)
    to celebrate Mass in the modern form AT ALL, completely against the will of his parishioners, most of whom now attend Mass (if at all) in neighboring villages. The bishop is not saying that they should not celebrate the traditional Mass, but simply that they cannot do so contravening church law (and the Motu Proprio is now church law) Unfortunately, adopting such overt confrontational attitude is completely detrimental to the the traditional cause.

  4. Michael Roods says:

    Was not this bishop that made a oath in the Pont. Comission Ecclesia Dei after been nominated?

  5. Ottaviani says:

    Why can’t these three priests just go and incardinate themselves into a traditional priestly society, if they want to exclusively celebrate the traditional mass and sacraments?

  6. Michael Roods says:

    Why doesn’t the bishop give them a personal parish?

  7. Father Anonymous says:

    “We are not juke-box priests”: great line

  8. RichR says:

    The reason they aren’t given a personal parish is that this is a power play by both sides. The bishop is the Ordinary. The priests believe they have the right to say Mass only in Latin (esp with the MP). They will not budge until Rome has intervened or the bishop decides to exercise more force than he wants to. If the bishop gives them a personal parish, then he, effectively, acquiesces to their demands for saying only Latin Masses, and he sets himself up for being bullied later on by others. This is how each side sees their position.

    I’m interested to see how this plays out, but it’s sad that it has to be worked out so legally. It’s like watching parents fight. Yeah, someone will “win”, but in the end, are the children better off after the fight?

  9. Tzard says:

    The “Jukebox” quote has a catchy ring and it’s been picked up by the press. But I think we should consider such a statement indicative of a problem in this situation.

    Can you imagine a typical NO priest saying “I’m not going to use latin” or face east or use the extraordinary form… because “I’m not a jukebox priest”? It shows a certain inflexibility in meeting the needs of the faithful – which is not a good virtue in a priest.

    Why won’t he just have an Italian NO mass on Sunday afternoon at 3:00, once a month? Pick a basement somewhere. (just kidding) More seriously, someone well versed in the Extraordinary form will be well equipped to do the NO liturgy in the most reverent manner possible.

    Unless they deny the validity of the NO Mass… Considering the Jukebox claim is rubbish, is there something not being said?

  10. michigancatholic says:

    Much more of this is about power struggling than many Catholics would like to admit. That’s what much of the NO-MP struggle is. Before V2, the traditionalists were the norm because the Church is traditional by definition; after, the modern progressivists–for 40+ years. Now it’s a battle between the two. Expect much more of the same.

    How do I think it will turn out? The traditionalists will take the field because they can’t fail to do so. It’s religiously (and logically) necessary that it happen that way. But not without huge losses and much controversy, some of which we have already seen.

Comments are closed.