“The little good that we can do in Rome is probably more important
than the great good that we can do elsewhere.” This very
important statement, made by Bishop de Galarreta at the priestly
ordinations in Econe, is a direct summons to our District [of
Italy]. Of course it referred mainly to the theological talks, but
there is no doubt that the image of the Society in Italy, because
of its proximity to Rome, also takes on a very special relevance.
You are the Superior of the Italian District: how did this
important statement strike you?
What the bishop
said in Econe is consistent with a deep conviction of the Society,
and the statement seems to me to be informed by a genuinely
Catholic spirit: I find nothing surprising in it.
I think that
Bishop de Galarreta’s remark sums up perfectly the Roman spirit
with which the Society wants to serve the Roman Church: to do
whatever is possible so that the Church can reclaim Her Tradition,
starting with Rome itself.
The history of
the Church teaches us that no universal, effective and lasting
reform is possible unless Rome makes that reform its own and it
starts from Rome.
Concerning these points many outside observers maintain that there is
an internal division within the SSPX between one so-called “Roman”
wing that is more inclined to dialogue with the authorities, and
another “Gallican” wing that is hostile to any sort of approach to
the Pope. Aside from the oversimplification, and within the limits
in which you can comment, do you think that this idea is
As in any human
association, so too in the Society there are different nuances and
sensibilities among the various members. To think that it can be
otherwise would be a bit childish.
think that one easily falls into the oversimplifications that you
just mentioned if calm good judgment is lost or one speaks on the
basis of preconceived prejudices: one ends up creating parties and
unthinkingly siding with some rather than others.
To the members
of the Society it is clear that the identity of their own
congregation is structured around a definite, precise axis that is
called Tradition; upon this principle, which is universally shared
within the Society, the unity of the Society itself is built, and
I think that objectively it is impossible to find a stronger
principle of identity and cohesion: precisely this basic cohesion
on the essentials is what allows the individuals to have variously
nuanced views on any matters of opinion.
I think that
the impression of a certain lack of homogeneity has been given by
the considerable differences in tone that Society members use in
their different settings, in their different predicaments, in
their different countries, and above all when confronted by the
extremely diverse and contradictory positions that the
representatives of the official hierarchy formulate with regard to
us and about anything that smacks of Tradition. Sometimes there is
a diminished perception of these facts among those who evaluate
the individual statements out of context online, and reduce them
to the same level in front of their computer screens.
Certainly it is
a question of considerations that are not immediately evident to
the outside observer.
On May 13 the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae was published, the
purpose of which is to regulate specifically how the Motu
Proprio Summorum Pontificum is applied. How is this important
document being evaluated by the SSPX?
We are talking
about a summary document that on the one hand expresses the clear
intention to implement the directives of the Motu Proprio
and, on the other hand, takes into account many explicit and
implicit objections which the episcopates have raised against
Summorum Pontificum; it is no secret that they are
fundamentally hostile to the restoration of the Tridentine rite.
First of all
the document states precisely that the restoration of the 1962
liturgy is a universal law for the Church; in the second
place the Instruction clearly makes an effort to defend, primarily
in a strictly juridical context, the priests who have been
prevented from using the Tridentine Missal by their ordinaries.
With a certain
finesse it reminds the bishops that it is up to them specifically
to guarantee those rights… in order to safeguard them it is
possible to appeal decisions made by the ordinaries themselves.
These, I think,
are the most positive points, drastically summarized.
Nevertheless article 19 of the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae
declares that the faithful who do not recognize the validity and
legitimacy of the reformed missal of Paul VI are not allowed to
request the Holy Mass of All Time. What do you think about that
completely candid, I cannot pass judgment on it because I find it
I have always
maintained that the most holy rite of the Mass had an intrinsic
value, above all in relation to its distinctive purpose of
rendering latria, adoration and worship to God.
Apart from any
other consideration, there is no way to understand what canonical
or theological basis there is for saying that the value of a
centuries-old rite that now has been declared “never abrogated”
and the possibility of celebrating it are determined by the
subjective disposition of someone who attends it or requests it.
This sets up a
foolish, impracticable perspective. For example, what would a
priest be obliged to do if he found that out of ten lay faithful
who requested the celebration of the Mass, five had objections to
the Mass of Paul VI? What would a priest be obliged to do if he
himself had very serious reservations about the new rite, since
the restriction pertains only to the lay faithful?1
If the two
rites are considered to be two equivalent forms of the same Roman
Rite, there is no reason why the Tridentine Rite should be so
dangerous as to require some sort of examination before allowing
Finally, if one
honestly accepts this premise [of equivalence], there is no reason
why priests and bishops who publicly reject the Tridentine Rite
should not be asked to refrain from celebrating the New Mass until
they let go of their stubborn resolution.
I think that
article 19 of the Instruction, although on the one hand it is the
expression of a typical diplomatic attitude, on the other hand can
unfortunately become part of a sort of ill-concealed moral
blackmail. It reveals an awareness on the part of the bishops that
the Tridentine Mass inevitably conveys an ecclesiology that is
incompatible with that of the Council and the Novus Ordo.
Consequently the Tridentine Mass can be allowed only while
exercising direct control over the consciences of the faithful. To
me that seems rather alarming.