30 June 2007

Motu Proprop & Cardinal O'Malley

[Taken from WDTPRS]
On the blog of His Eminence Sean Card. O’Malley, we read an account of the meeting he attended in Rome concerning the Motu Proprio. My emphases and comments.

From Cleveland I flew to Rome at the request of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to participate in a meeting discussing the Holy Father’s Moto Proprio about the use of the older form of the Latin Mass. [Very good! A distinction! Someone who understands that "Latin Mass" is any Mass in Latin, not the so-called "Tridentine" Mass.] There were about 25 bishops there, [Okay… was it 15? Was it 30? Was I right after all? After correcting myself?] including the president of Ecclesia Dei Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, the prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Cardinal Francis Arinze, several heads of bishops’ conferences as well as some cardinals [Yep… that’s Rome for ya….] and other residential bishops.

They shared with us the Moto Proprio and the Holy Father’s letter explaining it. We also had an opportunity to read the Latin document. We each commented on that, and then the Holy Father came in and shared [Ahhh… sharing….] some of his thoughts with us. The Holy Father is obviously most concerned about trying to bring about reconciliation in the Church. There are about 600,000 Catholics who are participating in the liturgies of the Society of St. Pius X, along with about 400 priest. [I wonder where this figure came from. Perhaps it came from the meeting. Sometimes we hear of numbers as high as 1 million.]

The Holy Father was very clear that the ordinary form of celebrating the Mass will be the new rite, the Norvus Ordo. But by making the Latin Mass more available, the Holy Father is hoping to convince those disaffected Catholics that it is time for them to return to full union with the Catholic Church. [But wait! There’s more! There are deeper reasons for this MP.]

So the Holy Father’s motivation for this decision is pastoral. He does not want this to be seen as establishing two different Roman Rites, but rather one Roman Rite celebrated with different forms. The Moto Propio is his latest attempt at reconciliation. [H.E. seems to want to limit the Holy Father’s move with a very narrow motive.]

In my comments at the meeting I told my brother bishops that in the United States the number of people who participate in the Latin Mass even with permission is very low. [Where in the USA? It’s a big place. Could Archbishop Burke have had a different experience?] Additionally, according to the research that I did, there are only 18 priories of the Society of St. Pius X in the entire country. Therefore this document will not result in a great deal of change for the Catholics in the U.S. Indeed, interest in the Latin Mass is particularly low here in New England. [Time will tell. I have the impression that this expresses H.E.’s hope rather than his prediction. But when you are a Cardinal Archbishop, those often coincide.]

In our archdiocese, the permission to celebrate the Latin Mass [Oooopppsss, a fumble on the 10 yrd line.] has been in place for several years, and I granted permission when I was in Fall River for a Mass down on the Cape. The archdiocesan Mass [...singular…] is now at Immaculate Mary of Lourdes Parish in Newton. It is well attended, and if the need arises for an extension of that we would, of course, address it.

This issue of the Latin Mass [Oh my! Another fumble at the 2!] is not urgent for our country, [I suspect it may be more urgent than H.E. may beleive.] however I think they wanted us to be part of the conversation so that we would be able to understand what the situation is in countries where the numbers are very significant. [I think that the "1" for whom the shepherd described by Jesus left the "99" was "very significant".] For example, in Brazil there is an entire diocese of 30,000 people that has already been reconciled to the Church.

All in all an interesting report from His Eminence. I am grateful that he posted it.

[And some commentary taken from Rorate Caeli]
How amusing it is to watch a Cardinal spin and downplay the greatest move of a pontificate. "This issue of the Latin Mass is not urgent for our country," says Cardinal O'Malley.

This is quite at odds with what the Cardinal responsible for the matter in the Roman Curia, Darío Castrillón Hoyos, said just last month in Aparecida: "The interest of the young curiously increases in France, the United States, Brazil, Italy, Scandinavia, Australia, and China". Any study of the "Traditionalist Question" around the world would confirm that: the number of Traditionalists in America is probably smaller only than that of France. And no other nation has such great potential for the Traditional Mass in the near future as the United States: the motu proprio will almost certainly have a greater numerical impact in America than in any other country.

Cardinal O'Malley does not stop there in this rhetorical tour de force: he dives deep into his own personal experience to say that "in the United States the number of people who participate in the Latin Mass even with permission is very low"; he adds that in his "archdiocese, the permission to celebrate the Latin Mass has been in place for several years". Very true, but Catholics in Boston are well aware of the humiliating and persistent denials of the Archbishop for the establishment of a more stable community, despite the "rightful aspirations" (Ecclesia Dei, 5) of the faithful attached to the Traditional Mass. We go to our archives to find this letter from an Archbishop and Chancery officials who believe they are being generous enough with the faithful:

First I wish to express my regrets that your 21 August 2005 is being acknowledged in such a tardy manner; however, I only recently have received it from the Office of the Archbishop with a request to respond to it. I note that your letter regards Holy Trinity Parish in Boston and specifically your request that the Archbishop invite either the Fraternity of Saints Peter and Paul [sic] or the Institute of Christ the King to come to the Archdiocese of Boston to service the Tridentine Community.

Please know that the Archbishop has received requests similar to yours in the past and has consistently responded that in accord with the request of Ecclesia Dei the Archdiocese of Boston provides the celebration of Mass in the Tridentine Rite and has the qualified priests to celebrate this Mass. It is not the intention of the Archbishop to begin a Tridentine Rite parish, thus at this time he does not envision the necessity nor the advantage of inviting priests from either of the two groups that you mention to the Archdiocese as we can provide for the celebration of the Mass on a weekly basis.

So, while the Cardinal spins and downplays the significance of the motu proprio now ("this document will not result in a great deal of change for the Catholics in the U.S. Indeed, interest in the Latin Mass is particularly low here in New England"), what was actually acknowledged by the Archbishop in the quite candid letter sent by the Archdiocese to a Catholic in Boston was that: (1) there had been repeated requests for the establishment of Ecclesia Dei orders in Boston (so much for "particularly low interest"); (2) it was enough to provide for the celebration of the Traditional Mass in one venue on a weekly basis in one of the largest archdioceses in the country.

This venue was recently relocated, as is often the case with Ecclesia Dei Masses, distinguished around the world by their great instability, including all kinds of incidents (such as the arrival of a new bishop, or the death of an old priest, or the closing of a church) which prevent most of the Ecclesia Dei faithful from establishing any long-term plans for their spiritual welfare and that of their families, as almost all Catholics are able to do in their parishes.

Unfortunately, Cardinal O'Malley's spin operation does not end in his own backyard. Considering the great relevance of the current position of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX) for the papal decision, SSPX activities in America were nonetheless presented as a minor operation:

"In my comments at the meeting I told my brother bishops that in the United States ... , according to the research that I did, there are only 18 priories of the Society of St. Pius X in the entire country."

This must come as quite a surprise for the SSPX superiors, for whom the District of the United States is their second largest operation worldwide. Since we must charitably presume that the Cardinal is not intentionally presenting a skewed view of the SSPX numbers in America, we have to assume that his aides are not much of a help prepping him for important meetings. Had the Cardinal taken the trouble to merely checking the SSPX website in the United States, he would have been able to give a more accurate picture of the "SSPX Question" in the country.

For instance, according to the SSPX website, the numbers are more like this, similar to those of a small diocese: besides the "only" 18 priories, which are not only "parishes", but "priest distribution centers", there are regular Masses in 38 states, 104 Chapels (not counting SSPX-friendly chapels), 24 schools, 4 retreat houses, 4 Summer camps, 1 College, 1 Seminary, 64 priests, and 63 seminarians .

The time is up: it is time to stop giving the wrong picture to the "brothers". The age of mere generosity is coming to an end. It is time to face facts and to end the spin.


We repeat our caveat for readers who may be curious on why various rumored contents of the motu proprio are not being discussed here: Considering the closeness of the date of publication of the motu proprio on the liberalization of the Traditional Roman Rite and its accompanying letter, we will avoid commenting on the contents of both documents, until the actual texts are publicly known.

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