Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Holy See's Conditions for the FSSPX

Here are the conditions laid down by the Holy See to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X for a return to a regular ecclesiastical situation. It seems that they were discussed at a meeting during Bishop Fellay's recent visit to Rome, and then formally communicated by a letter from Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to him. According to Andrea Tornielli, the terms are:

"Conditions arising from the meeting of June 4, 2008, between Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos and Bishop Bernard Fellay:

1) The commitment to a proportionate response to the generosity of the Pope.
2) The commitment to avoid any public intervention that does not respect the person of the Holy Father and that could be negative for ecclesial charity.
3) The commitment to avoid the claim of a superior teaching to that of the Holy Father and not to propose the fraternity as opposed to the Church.
4) The commitment to demonstrate the will to act honestly in full ecclesial charity and respect for the Vicar of Christ.
5) The commitment to respect the date - set at the end of the month of June - to respond positively. This will be a condition required and necessary as immediate preparation for accession to full communion."
(The translation is by Google and slightly corrected by me.)

The requirements are very interesting. There is no sort of profession of faith required, whether in the Council or the validity of the new sacramental rites, even in the form accepted by the Archbishop in 1988. However, there is a clear implication that the FSSPX has been speaking as though it had a magisterium superior to that of the Pope, and in a manner disrespectful to him.

This echoes Cardinal Castrillon's recent remarks that there was no schism, but that if the members of the FSSPX pretend to be "teachers of the Pope", that they could be excommunicated for heresy. It also resonates disturbingly with Bishop Fellay's recent remarks that he had received an ultimatum from Rome, which he interpreted as an instruction to "shut up".

The conditions are certainly open to some interpretation, but in themselves they are surely reasonable. The FSSPX raises legitimate concerns about some conciliar and post-conciliar magisterial documents and acts. Nonetheless, it must acknowledge that the Pope is the final authority on how all these things accord with the Church's dogmatic tradition (which it does), and avoid expressions which are in tension with this acknowledgment (which perhaps it doesn't always). Equally, the Holy See must take seriously these concerns of apparent tensions between post-conciliar and pre-conciliar teaching in some areas, and of certain acts of the post-conciliar Popes that seem to contradict some pre-conciliar teaching. The expression of such concerns is not in itself disrespectful to the Roman Pontiff, and the faithful need clarification of these matters.

This is a moment of serious decision, which could yield great graces for the whole Church; or not. Let us all pray for the FSSPX and for the Holy Father.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Cardinal Ricard's Statement on the Agreement

I should acknowledge, as usual, Rorate Caeli, as the source of the links to the original French documents, on the website of the Archdiocese of Bordeaux, to which I refer readers who read French for a more fuller and more accurate understanding.

Cardinal Ricard presents the meaning and implications of the agreement signed with the Institute of the Good Shepherd

On Thursday 1st February, there were signed a decree erecting in Bordeaux a personal parish and an agreement entrusting this personal parish to the Institute of the Good Shepherd.

The Code of Canon Law speaks of a personal parish in these terms: “As a general rule, a parish shall be territorial, that is it will include all the faithful of a given territory; but where it is useful, personal parishes shall be established, defined by the rite, the language, the nationality, of the faithful of a territory, and indeed by any other characteristic.”

This personal parish which is not territorial, encompasses some faithful who wish to celebrate the liturgy with the liturgical books in force in 1962, It takes its place among the other communities where this liturgy is celebrated in union with the Archbishop: the chapels of Christ the Redeemer (at Talence), St. Germain (at Auros), and the Church of St. Bruno (in Bordeaux.) This parish has its seat at the Church of St. Eloi, which is placed at its disposal by the Diocese. It is entrusted to the Institute of the Good Shepherd, a society of apostolic life of pontifical right, officially erected by Rome on 8th September last.

The time is come

This decision, described in my editorial in L’Acquitaine of 6th October, 2006, was preceded by a consultation of the Council of Priests and of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. Questions have been asked, and reservations expressed. The contacts undertaken, meetings with the members of the Institute and its Superior General, difficulties surmounted, a personal letter which Father Laguérie addressed to me, wishing, after a number of years of polemics, to renew more fraternal relations with the Diocese, have convinced me that the time has come to sign an agreement with the Institute. This, in parallel with the recognition of the Institute by Rome, is ad experimentum. It will be reviewed after five years, and the situation will be assessed each by the two parties.

Towards fraternal communion

The signature of this agreement is not merely an administrative act, nor one made reluctantly. It is the expression of a desire of welcome and communion in the Diocese of Bordeaux with the priests and faithful who wish to recover full communion with the See of Rome. We must recall that we are of the same family, called by grace to take our places as the poor at the table of the Lord. During the celebration of the Eucharist, I often address this prayer to the Father: “Humbly, we ask that, partaking in the body and blood of Christ, we may be gathered by the Holy Spirit into one single body.” No-one is the owner of the Church. In a reconciliation according to the Gospel, no-one is the conqueror or the vanquished; without concession or condition, there is a fraternal communion, a welcome in the love of Christ, mutually.

A task to be accomplished

Certainly, this communion has, in the nature of the agreement signed, an institutional dimension: this parish has the same rights and duties as the other parishes of the diocese, such as are defined by our diocesan statutes and the universal law of the Church. But this communion must also be lived by fraternal links, for, if it is a fruit of the Spirit, it is also a task to be accomplished, with which must comport mutual knowledge, communication, exchange and dialogue. At the suggestion of the Council of Priests, I have decided on the creation of a commission of dialogue (from five to seven persons) which will be in constant contact with this person entrusted to the Institute of the Good Shepherd, and will assist with a better mutual awareness.

The deepening understanding of the Second Vatican Council

We know well that it is not only the liturgical question which has hitherto been the cause of divisions in the Church, but more generally a disagreement about the doctrinal and pastoral authority of the Second Vatican Council, and about the reception of its texts. The welcome given by Rome to the priests of the Institute has not made light of this question. This still remains relevant. We must not hide this. Fraternal communion does not erode this fact. During the creation of the Institute of the Good Shepherd at Rome, on 8th September last, the priests of this Institute have declared [that they], “accept the doctrine contained in no. 25 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium of the Second Vatican Council on the Magisterium of the Church and the adherence which is due to it.” They have also agreed to clarify that, “Concerning certain points taught by the Second Vatican Council or concerning the subsequent reforms of the liturgy or of the law, and which seem to us difficult to reconcile with Tradition, we commit ourselves to a positive attitude of study and of communion with the Apostolic See, avoiding all polemic.” (Act of adherence.) It is therefore possible, in fidelity to the present Magisterium, to be able to speak with the members of the Institute and with the faithful who associate with them, concerning certain points which they find difficult about the Second Vatican Council. The truth of communion has this price.

The Second Vatican Council, situated within the whole tradition of the Church, is for us, as Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have said, a “compass” for our ecclesial journey. Next year, I have proposed to our whole diocese four great catecheses for adults on the four great insights of this Council. I hope that they will be the occasion, without making light of our differences, of a calm reflection and of a respectful exchange among all.

A communion for mission

Let us not forget in the end that our communion is at the service of our mission. We are confronted by some terrible challenges: how to proclaim the Gospel today to those who do not know it? How to transmit the Christian faith to generations which come into a largely secularized society? As I have already said last October, “We need to unite our forces, all our forces, and share our experiences. We are called to live the same apostolic adventure. Some days, the sea can seem strong. The ship of the Church is submerged in it. But let us not fear! Let us listen to Christ saying to us: “Men of little faith, why have you doubted? Do you not know that I am with you in the boat until the end of the ages?”

It is against this horizon of communion and mission that we must assess what is at stake in the agreement which has just been signed.

Bordeaux, the 2nd February, 2007,

On the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

Jean-Pierre Cardinal RICARD
Archbishop of Bordeaux
Bishop of Bazas

Monday, February 05, 2007

Press Release

The dialogue which has been open since last September between the Institute of the Good Shepherd and the Diocese of Bordeaux has just passed an important stage: the creation of a personal parish for those priests and lay faithful desirous of celebrating the liturgy according to the books in force in 1962, and the signature of an agreement entrusting to the Institute of the Good Shepherd this parish in the Church of St. Eloi in Bordeaux.

This stage is the sign of a firm desire to work for unity and to seek paths of reconciliation after a time for polemics. This agreement gives a context for mutual knowledge and a constructive dialogue. Mutual respect will allow for a calm discussion on the reception of the Second Vatican Council, in fidelity to the Magisterium, and on the conditions for evangelism today.

In the months to come, only a climate of peace, trust and the spirit of the Gospel will allow us to be completely faithful to this mission which Christ has entrusted to his disciples: "That they might be one, that the world may believe!"

At Bordeaux, the 1st February, 2007

Father Philippe Laguérie
Superior General of the Institute of the Good Shepherd

Jean-Pierre Cardinal Ricard
Archbishop of Bordeaux
Bishop of Bazas

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Decree of Erection of Personal Parish at St. Eloi, Bordeaux

Decree and Nominations

By decision of the Lord Archbishop.

According to Canon 518 and after consultation with the Council of Priests, there is constituted a personal parish for the priests and faithful laity desiring to celebrate the liturgy using the liturgical books in force in 1962.

The Lord Archbishop invites the Institute of the Good Shepherd to take charge of this parish.

An agreement is established between the two parties for a period of five years ad experimentum, the period fixed by the Holy See for the Institute of the Good Shepherd.

The services and celebrations of this parish shall take place exclusively in the Parish Church of St. Eloi.

Father Philippe LAGUÉRIE, Superior General, is named for five years as parish priest of this parish.

Father Christophe HÉRY, with the agreement of the Superior General, Father Philippe Laguérie, is named assistant priest.

At Bordeaux, the 1st February, 2007,

Father Pierre GRENIÉ

Jean-Pierre Cardinal RICARD
Archbishop of Bordeaux

Cardinal Ricard's Agreement with the Good Shepherd Institute

On 1st February, Cardinal Ricard erected a personal parish which he has entrusted to the Institute of the Good Shepherd, in the following text:

Agreement between the Archdiocese of Bordeaux
and the Pontifical Institute of the Good Shepherd

Between his Eminence, Jean-Pierre, Cardinal RICARD,
Archbishop of Bordeaux, Bishop of Bazas
Father Philippe LAGUÉRIE,
Superior General of the Institute of the Good Shepherd,

It is agreed as follows:

The Lord Archbishop has erected in the Church of St. Eloi a personal parish characterized by the usage of the liturgical books in force in 1962 (CIC 518), which he has entrusted to the Society of apostolic life, the Institute of the Good Shepherd (CIC 520 §1) for a period of five years ad experimentum (520 §2).

In accordance with the Decree no. 118/2006 of 8th September, 2006, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has conferred on the members of the Institute of the Good Shepherd the right to celebrate the sacred liturgy, “using, truly as its proper right, the liturgical books in force in 1962, namely the Roman Missal, the Roman Ritual and the Roman Pontifical for conferring orders and also the right to recite the Divine Office according to the Roman Breviary published in the same year.”

At the proposal of the Superior General of the Institute of the Good Shepherd, the Lord Archbishop names the pastor of this parish so that he may be the true pastor exercising his ministry under the authority of the diocesan bishop (CIC no. 519).

A parochial vicar may be appointed as his assistant (CIC no. 545 § 1). Proposed by the Superior General of the Institute, he shall also be named by the Archbishop of Bordeaux.

The parish priest and the curate of the personal parish entrusted to Institute of the Good Shepherd shall exercise their responsibility according to the rules fixed by the Universal Church. (CIC no. 515ff.)

The Archbishop, trustee of the Church of St. Eloi, commits to the parish priest of the personal parish entrusted to Institute of the Good Shepherd, the rights and duties of the trustee.

The services and the sacraments of the Christian life of the personal parish entrusted to the Institute of the Good Shepherd shall be celebrated exclusively in the Church of St. Eloi.

In accordance with Canon 535 §1, the parish is given parish registers. A copy of the registers shall be sent each year to the Archdiocesan Curia.

Processions and other manifestations outside the church having the capacity to serve the edification of the People of God, which the personal parish entrusted to the Institute of the Good Shepherd may wish to organize, shall be submitted for the written authorization of the Lord Archbishop.

The Lord Archbishop according to the needs of his duty reserves to himself the possibility of celebrating in the Church of St. Eloi.

The pastoral letters and official texts sent by the Lord Archbishop to be read in all churches of the diocese shall be read also in the Church of St. Eloi.

A noticeboard shall be placed in the church of the use of diocesan notices and announcements.

The customary collections shall be taken in the personal parish, and the collections ordered by the Lord Archbishop must be announced, taken and sent for the use of diocesan funds.

The envelopes for the funds of the Church shall be distributed in the Church of St. Eloi and returned to the Curia.

The parish priest and the curate shall be the financial responsibility of the personal parish, which will benefit, to insure their salary, from reimbursement by the Church’s funds, to the extent that every priest in the diocese of Bordeaux receives.

The personal parish enjoys the use of the presbytery attached to the Church of St. Eloi. The seat of the Institute can be transferred there.

There shall be constituted under the authority of the parish priest a finance committee according to the rules in force in the diocese of Bordeaux. The accounts of the parish shall be sent made available annually to the diocesan finance office.

The present agreement shall be submitted to re-evaluation each year for five years. All serious difficulties in the application of this agreement and any new situation shall be the object of discussions and agreements between the signatory parties.

At the end of this period, a more comprehensive agreement shall be drawn up in necessary.

At Bordeaux, the 1st February,

Father Philippe LAGUÉRIE
Superior General
Institute of the Good Shepherd

Jean-Pierre Cardinal RICARD
Archbishop of Bordeaux

Father Pierre GRENIÉ,

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Closing Address

A section from Cardinal Ricard's closing address to the Plenary Assembly of the French Episcopal Conference. Thanks, as ever, to Rorate Caeli for drawing it to my attention. The full original text is here.


During our Assembly, we have gone over two recent events which have marked our recent ecclesiastical situation: the creation of the Institut Bon Pasteur and the information given by the press of the forthcoming publication of a motu proprio which would enlarge the conditions set down for the celebration of the Mass known as that of St. Pius V. We know the feeling which these two pieces of news have provoked among the priests, deacons and lay people of our dioceses. I had occasion to address this point a little more fully in my opening address. I would like to sum up here in a few words the fruit of our discussions and the convictions which have been expressed during our Assembly and which are summed up in the message which you have addressed to me. I thank you in this regard, for your confidence and your support, which are a source of great comfort to me.

1) As Bishops of the Episcopal Conference, we desire in the first place to express our profound communion with Pope Benedict XVI. He knows that he can count on our fraternal collaboration and the assistance of our prayers.

2) We gladly share in working for the unity of the Church and to open a path of reconciliation for all those who, following Mgr Lefebvre, have left full communion with the See of Peter. We keep in our prayers this work of reconciliation which is a fruit of the Spirit.

3) We have the conviction that this work can only be accomplished by rediscovering together the sacramental reality of the Church and in welcoming, with humility and simplicity, the Christian brotherhood as a gift of God. To see all relations within the Church in terms of strategies to be undertaken, battles to engage in, victories to be won, and controversies to intensify, cannot but harm this work of reconciliation.

4) We reaffirm that the teaching of the Church and the apostolic dynamism which it imparted to the whole Church remain the “compass” which orients our work. We make known our glad recognition of all those, priests, deacons, male and female religious, and lay people, who have contributed with great generosity, the orientations and decisions of the Council. They are good servants of the Gospel.

But Vatican Council II is still to be received. We must always ensure that its breath deeply animates the life and activity of our Christian communities. Equally, we must ensure that we do not accept under our authority manners of living, thinking, celebrating and organizing that have nothing in common with it.

To remain faithful to the Council does not mean that one may remain nostalgic for the first decades when it was implemented. The Council itself invites us to live in the bosom of a pilgrim Church, a Church on its journey towards the Kingdom, who receives from day to day the charisms and ministries which the Holy Spirit sends to her, as disconcerting as they may be.

5) We know well that the differences that the faithful who have followed Mgr Lefebvre in his “no” to Rome are not primarily liturgical, but theological – concerning religious liberty, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue – and political. But we do not want to minimize the importance of the liturgy which is at the heart of our ecclesial life. We therefore thank in this respect all those who have trained themselves, who contribute to the quality of our liturgies and who enable us to have, in some places indeed, celebrations which are beautiful and prayerful, joyful and recollected.

6) We wish to pursue welcoming those who retain an attachment to the Mass known as that of St. Pius V. A diversity is possible. But that must be regulated. This concerns the unity of the liturgy and the unity of the Church. One cannot leave a choice of one of the forms of the Roman Rite – the Mass of Paul VI or the Mass of St. Pius V – to one’s subjectivity alone. A Church where each one builds his own chapel according to his personal tastes, his sensibility, his choice of liturgy or his political opinions, would not still be the Church of Christ. We must resist today the temptation to a religion à la carte. As bishops, we are ready to attend, with the Holy Father and under his authority, to unity and to the communion in the bosom of our local churches and between our churches.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cardinal Ricard's Press Conference

Cardinal Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux and President of the French Bishops' Conference, gave a press conference today, in which he addressed a number of issues discussed at the Conference's current plenary session. The following is a translation of his remarks concerning the traditional liturgy. The original is available on the Conference's website. Many thanks, as ever, to Rorate Caeli for drawing this to our attention:

The Archbishop of Bordeaux mentioned the announcement in the media of a possible liberalization of permission to celebrate Mass as before the conciliar reform, and which has aroused a certain emotion among the priests and the laity.

“This has taken on an unreal dimension,” remarked the Cardinal, “first of all because Latin has never disappeared, partly because the Mass of Paul VI is sometimes said in Latin, notably in certain monasteries, and finally because there is no question of imposing the Tridentine Mass on all the faithful! In short, there is no turning back. The question is to know how to open up further the conditions on how Mass according to the missal of 1962 may be celebrated,” he continued, before mentioning his meeting on October 26 with Pope Benedict XVI.

“His desire is to do all that is in his power to put an end to the Lefebvrist schism. He knows that the more years pass, the more relations become distant and positions harden. The Pope wishes to do all he can, that a hand may be extended and a welcome may be shown, at least to those of good will and who show a deep desire for communion.”

A wish that does not put in question an attachment to the Second Vatican Council: “No, the Church is not changing course. Contrary to the intentions which some attribute to him, Pope Benedict XVI does not intend to go back on the course which the Second Vatican Council has given to the Church. He is solemnly committed to that.”

Cardinal Ricard insisted on the Pope’s desire not to short-circuit consultation. “The project of the Motu Proprio will be the subject of various consultations. We can make known, from this moment, our fears and our wishes.”

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Address of Mgr Vingt-Trois

Address of His Grace the Archbishop of Paris,
at the Opening of the Colloquium to Mark the Fiftieth Anniversary of the
Institut Supérieur de Liturgie.

Your Eminence, your Excellencies, Rector, Fathers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour and a joy for the Archbishop of Paris, Chancellor of the Institut Catholique, to open this university colloquium on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie. This joy and honour are magnified once again, Eminence, by the privilege that you have bestowed on us by your presence. Your active participation manifests the interest of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, of which you are the Prefect, not only in the labours of this colloquium, but above all in the work which has been accomplished over the course of these fifty years by the Institut de Liturgie.
1. At the turn of the century.
The foundation of the Institut must be placed in the larger context of the vast collection of work and research on the liturgy which marked the twentieth century and which is sometimes justly known by the generic name of the “Liturgical Movement.”

In parallel with the secular study of rites and myths, the end of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth were marked by an important investment in historical and theological works on understanding the Latin liturgy. Others, more competent than I will undoubtedly describe the great figures of the Movement, particularly rich in Germany and France.
Largely supported and encouraged by Pius XI and Pius XII, these works, even before the Second Vatican Council, led to a certain number of reforms aiming the better to show forth the sense of the liturgical action, and also to facilitate its accessibility to the faithful. If I may be so permitted, I will simply mention the reform of Holy Week [1], the proclamation of the liturgical readings in vernacular languages [2] and the permission to celebrate the Eucharist in the evening [3], to speak only of the changes most noticeable to the assembly of the faithful. One must also refer to the decision of Pope St. Pius X to call the faithful to frequent communion [4] and to fix the age of first Communion at the age of reason [5] as one of the decisive factors in transforming relationships with the liturgy.
The studies undertaken also allowed, at least for those who wished to refer to them, for a better acquaintance with the successive changes in the liturgical rites and their historical conditions. From the theological perspective, they served to affirm the understanding of faithfulness to a living tradition in a slow development, which is not a simple mechanical repetition of a ritual chosen at a particular period. Thus, the profound liturgical reform of St. Pius V, in the application of the Council of Trent, could be understood as one of the stages of this long development: not the first and not the last. Faithfulness to the original institution could be deepened in integrating a living understanding of the Church’s tradition. The Church, in her Magisterium, has the charge of guaranteeing that faithfulness.

After the first reforms decreed by Pope Pius XII, it became clear that a deepening of historical knowledge and theological reflection on the liturgy constituted a fundamental area of university research. It was the merit of the pioneers to respond to this opportunity in launching the beautiful adventure of the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie. One must mention them all. I must be allowed to mention at least some of those among the first: Dom Botte O.S.B., Father Bouyer of the French Oratory, Father Gy, O.P., and Father Jounel, certainly among others.

2. The liturgical reform.
In the context, pastoral and academic, of the Liturgical Movement of the twentieth century, the young institute sought and found a particular area of work in the liturgical reform desired by the Second Vatican Council, and put into practice with fidelity and perseverance by Paul VI and John Paul II. In the times in which we live, it is perhaps not superfluous to recall some of the fundamental elements of this reform. I do not doubt that this will be done during the course of this colloquium. For my part, having lived the reform as a seminarian and as a priest, I would simply like to draw attention to two aspects which seem to me today to be largely misunderstood.
The first aspect is that of the catechetical and spiritual treasure from which the faithful benefit, and through them, the entire Church. The elaboration of the new liturgical readings, with the continuous reading of the Gospels and the Epistles and the greater access to the basic texts of the first Testament, opens to all the possibility of a larger encounter with the Scriptures, in the heart of the liturgical celebration itself. Further, the Council has not only enlarged the scriptural field of the readings. It has also defined the parameters of a preaching which must offer an actual commentary on these biblical readings: “Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony.” (S.C. 24.)
Beyond these or those questionable or changeable decisions of the reform, who could not see the considerable benefits which have resulted from it for the faithful? The exaggerations and errors which have accompanied its putting into practice must not hide what is at stake. The fundamental question is not that of the language used, but the question of the legitimacy of the Church in determining the forms of her liturgy. Who can fix the authorized readings? Who can define the liturgical calendar? Who can determine the feasts to celebrate, the saints to honour, and so on? What is, in the regard, the responsibility of the bishops in their pastoral office?

The second aspect which I would like to discuss is the following. The reform has brought to light that the liturgy, the sacred action, is not only the primary locus of catechesis, but also the moment of identification of the ecclesial community itself, the expression of its common faith. In the Catholic Church, if there exist different rites which are equally recognized, it is to express liturgically, in the regular prayer of the community, the liturgical, theological and spiritual tradition of a particular Church. In a certain sense, the rite is inseparable from a Church.
In this perspective, the work of liturgists, such as is conducted in this Institute, is not first of all a technical or practical specialism which can be juxtaposed with a speculative theological reflection. It is an organic act of Christian reflection upon the common faith.
This central dimension of the liturgical act for the identity of the Church and the whole community within her can undoubtedly explain why the liturgical debate arouses such passions. It touches the very awareness of what it is to belong to the Church. It is the reason why this debate has taken on among us a particular acuity, to which the French are especially attentive and – dare I say it? – Parisians most of all.
In our country, the liturgical reform has been applied with a systematic method which one does not find elsewhere. One of the reasons for this was that it had long been prepared for by historical and theological researches, and also by the vast effort of pastoral and apostolic renewal in the post-War period. This systematic approach, and the remarkable effects which it enabled, has also driven some applications which have sometimes been inappropriate or brutal, which enabled the impression to be given of a breaking of the tradition.
It is more serious, in fact, that the sadness and wounds that this behaviour has provoked. Among us, the liturgy has become an instrument in a debate of another order. Under some fantasies or some liturgical trends, one could discern a self-celebration of the assembly itself, substituted for the celebration of the work of God, even the proclamation of a new model of the Church. On the other hand, under the pretence of a mobilization for the defence of a liturgical form, there has been a radical criticism of the Second Vatican Council, which one has witnessed, even to the outright rejection of some of its declarations. The refusal of liturgical books regularly promulgated has been followed by public offence done to the Pope, and crowned by acts of violence such as the taking by force of a parish church in Paris, and a second tentative abortive attempt on the part of the same actors.
It would be of no use to recall these sad events, if it were not necessary to clarify the present context. None of the protagonists in these battles has believed or said that the problem was primarily, or still less exclusively, liturgical. It was and it remains an ecclesiological problem. It poses clearly the question of ecclesial unity in communion with the See of Peter. It poses clearly the question of the authority of an Ecumenical Council and its declarations voted upon by the assembly of the Episcopal college, and promulgated by the first of the bishops, head of the college.

If I allow myself to recall these underpinnings of the liturgical debate, it is because they seem to be me to constitute a theological and spiritual moment in our experience of the Church. If the liturgical controversy has also played strongly the rôle of wind-break for another debate, it is indeed because the liturgy is also a revealer of the experience of ecclesial communion. It is not a show, of which one may criticise at one’s leisure the programming and the cast, and correct the score. It is the expression of the faith and of the communion of the Church. It is, in a Christian system, the action which is constitutive of the Church: “Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.” (S.C. 7.)

3. The future.

I have expanded a little upon the upheavals of the past forty years, first of all to salute the fidelity of the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie to the doctrinal and pastoral orientations of the Magisterium. This fidelity – must I recall it here – has never sought to appeal from one Council to another, from one Pope to another, or from one bishop to another.
Allow me therefore first, in my own name, and I believe that I can speak in the name of the bishops of France, to express my recognition of all the collaborators of the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie past and present, for their distinguished services which they have rendered to the Church. By their labours, liturgical culture has been developed, not only among specialists and clerics, but also, and thanks to them, among the assembly of the Christian people, and the liturgical quality of celebrations has progressed. Allow me also to formulate a vow for the future: that this institute follow upon and develop its own works.
In conclusion, I would like to share with you a hope: that the permanent efforts of our Church to reunite her children in one sole people and one sole praise be crowned with success. Since the sad year of 1988, the successive Popes have not ceased to stretch out their hand to those of their children who have sought to become their judges. No doubt today, the gulf has been enlarged, and the bridges are more difficult to put in place. That is an additional reason not to delay in acting with all our heart. Your bishops will continue to work peaceably and serenely for the necessary reconciliation in fidelity to the Pope and in communion with him.
For my part, I have inherited from Cardinal Lustiger a generous ecclesial putting into practice of the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. I am fortunate that this situation would allow sincere Christians to remain in ecclesial communion and to have their place as they are in the pastoral life of the diocese. I think that communion will advance more largely again if one would renounce anathemas and hyperbole. A sign of this progress would undoubtedly be if all could celebrate the Eucharist following the same liturgical calendar and the same lectionary. How unity would progress if we all heard every Sunday the same Word of God, if we all celebrated together the same feasts of the Lord and if we honoured together the same saints!

+André Vingt-Trois
Archbishop of Paris

[1] Decree of 9 February, 1951, then of 16 November, 1955.
[2] Response of the Holy Office of 17 October, 1956, authorizing the proclamation of the Epistle and of the Gospel in Latin and then in the vernacular language.
[3] Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus, 6 January, 1953; Directory for the pastoral celebration of the Mass for the use of the Dioceses of France (November, 1956).
[4] St. Pius X, Decree Sacra Tridentina Synodus, 30 December, 1905.
[5] St. Pius X, Decree Quam singulari, 8 August, 1910.

Acknowledgements and Translator's Notes

I am grateful to Rorate Caeli for drawing this text to my attention, as part of its ongoing coverage of various responses to the Holy Father's expected freeing of the traditional Roman Rite. The original French text is available on the website of the Archdiocese of Paris; those who read French are encouraged to consult this!

I apologize in advance for any errors in my translation, which has been completed quickly, in an attempt to increase understanding of the contemporary situation. This address strikes me as instructive in a number of ways that I hope will be explored fully in discussion.