On August 31, twelve superiors of Ecclesia Dei communities met in Courtalain, (France) and signed a letter in which they expressed their reaction to the recent Motu proprio Traditionis Custodes of Pope Francis. Thank you Holy Father? It is in the spirit of true charity Abbé Gleize offers the impossibility of reconciling what they are trying to attempt reconciling. No man can serve two masters. It is not the question of liturgy but two religions at clash. May these superiors see the reality and follow one and true Master! May they not try to square the circle! It is our wish and prayer for them, again in the same spirit of charity.
Worried that their Institutes would be subjected to apostolic disciplinary visits, which could result in their being deprived of the possibility of celebrating Mass according to the rite of St. Pius V, these signatories protest their adherence to the Magisterium of Vatican II and after, and turn to the bishops of France, to implore their patience and their listening, their understanding and their mercy - in a truly human dialogue. Not a word about the fundamental harmfulness of the new Mass of Paul VI. Not a word about the bitter fruits of the Council. Not a word about the appalling acceleration of the Church’s crisis under Pope Francis. What about communion for remarried divorcees? And the scandal of the Pachamama? Diplomacy, if it is diplomacy, borders here on naivety or unconsciousness when it is not hypocrisy. What will the poor and brave faithful who attend these Institutes say?
What are all these major superiors asking for in the end? They are asking for freedom, the freedom to continue to celebrate the rite of the old Mass, in the midst of all those who celebrate the rite of the new Mass. But this freedom is impossible. And what is striking in reading this letter is the absence of any reference to the truth that delivers: the truth of the fundamental opposition that forbids the new rite of the Mass of Paul VI to coexist peacefully with the rite of the Mass of old.
Why such opposition? Let us repeat the obvious: the law of prayer is the expression of the law of belief. Now, the new rite of the Mass of Paul VI is the expression of a new belief, in opposition to the old one. Archbishop Lefebvre repeated this on several occasions, notably in his Homily at the priestly ordinations of June 29, 1976: “We are convinced that precisely this new rite of the Mass expresses a new faith, a faith which is not ours, a faith which is not the Catholic faith. This new Mass is a symbol, an expression, an image of a new faith, a modernist faith. This new rite underlies - if I may say so - another conception of the Catholic religion, another religion.”
And the reciprocal is true: the rite of the old Mass expresses a faith that is not that of Vatican II, that is not that of Pope Francis and of the bishops of France fully submitted to him. It is for this very reason that the Pope has decided, as he explains in the Letter accompanying the Motu proprio, “to abrogate all the norms, instructions, permissions and customs that precede the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes and “to suspend the faculty granted by his predecessors.” The fundamental reason for this decision, the Pope tells us, is that “there is a close link between the choice of celebrations according to the liturgical books prior to the Second Vatican Council and the rejection of the Church and its institutions in the name of the so-called ‘true Church’.”
The twelve superiors of the Institutes of Ecclesia Dei may defend themselves, in pathetic maudlin and victimizing verbiage, from such a rejection, but it necessarily remains inscribed in the very essence of the old rite of the Mass. The celebration of the old Mass is, as such, the rejection not only of the new rite of Paul VI, but of the entire new magisterium of Vatican II. Beyond a factual rejection, which would be the work of this or that person, not representative of the Ecclesia Dei movement - and of which we would like to believe that the twelve signatories, leaders of the Institutes of this movement, are innocent - there will always be a rejection of principle, which necessarily follows, sooner or later, from the rite of the Mass of Saint Pius V. The Mass of old is incompatible with the conciliar Church. And that is why Pope Francis, insofar as he claims to be a member of the Church of the Council, cannot tolerate the Mass of old. Archbishop Lefebvre once said: “If, in all objectivity, we look for the true motive of those who ask us not to make these ordinations, if we look for their profound motive, we find that it is because we ordain these priests so that they say the Mass of all time. And it is because we know that these priests will be faithful to the Mass of the Church, to the Mass of Tradition, to the Mass of all time, that we are urged not to ordain them” (Homily for the ordinations of 29 June 1976).
The superiors of the Ecclesia Dei Institutes cannot combine their adherence to the Council with their demand for the Mass of all time. The requirement of ecclesial communion, based on the double law of the new belief (Vatican II) and the new prayer that expresses it (the new Mass of Paul VI), forbids them to do so. But wasn’t this already stated by Pope John Paul II, in n° 5 of his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei Afflicta? “To all those Catholic faithful who feel attached to certain earlier liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition,” he wrote, “I also wish to manifest my desire - with which I ask the bishops and all those who have a pastoral ministry in the Church to associate themselves - to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the measures necessary to guarantee respect for their aspirations.”
In the mind of John Paul II, father and founder of the Ecclesia Dei Commission and the movement of the same name, all the measures taken in favor of “certain earlier liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition” were explained by one and the same goal: to facilitate ecclesial communion for the faithful coming out of the Lefebvrist schism. Thirty-three years later, the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes merely takes the necessary steps to ensure this same goal. And the only way to safeguard the Mass of old is to dispel and reject the mirage of this false “ecclesial communion” based on a new faith, which is not the Catholic faith. Will the twelve signatories be able to go that far? This is the grace we must hope for them, the grace that Pope St. Pius X can obtain for them, who, in order to preserve the true faith, was filled by God with an all-heavenly wisdom and a truly apostolic courage.
Abbé Jean-Michel Gleize, FSSPX