The old Mass stands for the diversity of the good
8 February 2007
What are the consequences of the release of the old Mass?
The Holy Father has an enormous sensitivity to liturgical spirituality and would like to retain a treasure of the Church – not for the museum but as a living inheritance for society so that people who have sensitivity towards tradition will be able to savour this richness.
I am constantly surprised that young people who have not known the Old Rite before discover the peace and mystery of the Old Mass. What is important is that the two Rites do not oppose each other but one should see the beauty and sanctity in both.
Many traditionalists complain that the Bishops hardly take any notice of the Motu Propriu Ecclesia Dei and that they in know way allow generously the Old Mass. Is this Indult a reaction to it?
The Pope, in his capacity as Universal Shepherd, would like in the first instance to accommodate the faithful who have a sensitivity to the traditional liturgy. He is not giving way to external pressure nor to lists of signatures on petitions.
It is rather a holy Rite, which the Church has been celebrating for more than a thousand years. I do not wish to be hard on my Episcopal colleagues who have reacted against the requests of Ecclesia Dei. Some do not even have priests for their Sunday Masses and they find it difficult to allow Masses for small groups. The Motu Propriu does not mention figures. Some people are afraid of a liturgical split. The Holy Father has already as a member of the Ecclesia Dei Commission made clear that the old Mass is neither bad nor divisive and stands for a multitude of good things.
Could the Indult stimulate new experiments and forms of “liturgical creativity”?
What is decisive is how the Church directs the Faithful and Priests. Let’s think of the Ten Commandments. Although they are clearly formulated, Christians do not follow them completely in their lives. But the Ten Commandments are still the same. Each individual is responsible for keeping them.
Cardinal Ratzinger has celebrated the old Mass in public several times. Why has he not done that since the Conclave?
I know that the Holy Father loves the old Rite. I do not know anything about his decisions concerning his personal celebration of this Rite and I do not wish to speculate.
Does the Indult support ecumenism, “ad intra” (internal)?
Please accept that I reject the term “ecumenism ad intra”. The Bishops, Priests and Faithful of the Society of St Pius X are not schismatics. It is Archbishop Lefebrve who has undertaken an illicit Episcopal consecration and therefore performed a schismatic act. It is for this reason that the Bishops consecrated by him have been suspended and excommunicated. The priests and faithful of the Society have not been excommunicated. They are not heretics. I do, however, share St Jerome’s fear that heresy leads to schism and vice versa. The danger of a schism is big, such as a systematic disobedience vis-à-vis the Holy Father or by a denial of his authority. It is after all a service of charity, so that the Priestly Society gains full communion with the Holy Father by acknowledging the sanctity of the new Mass.
And the pastoral considerations relating to the Sacraments?
I don’t see any problems there. The Holy Father has made it clear at the consistory that the Bishops can allow baptisms, confirmation and weddings in the old Rite. After all, what applies to the Eucharist also applies to other Sacraments.