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Interview with Fr. Davide Pagliarani:

of the outcome of the talks with Rome and of some agitation in the traditionalist world

Fr. Davide Pagliarani
during a recent visit to Asia

Part II


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 well-founded?

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.

Nevertheless I 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 restriction?

To be completely candid, I cannot pass judgment on it because I find it incomprehensible.

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 it.

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.

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