UNITY OF THE CHURCH, RECONCILIATION AND LITURGY
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.