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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 III and final


Are there, in your opinion, other points in the document [Universae Ecclesiae] where the intention to exercise this type of control emerges?

In my humble opinion there is one in particular. Whereas the Motu Proprio restored the free use of all the liturgical books in addition to the missal, the Instruction forbids such use in a very specific case: that of priestly ordinations, with an exception being made for the religious institutes that are subject to the authority of the Ecclesia Dei Commission or that already use the Tridentine Rite. (cf. article 31).

This matter is rather surprising, especially in the case of diocesan ordinations, considering that modern ecclesiology insists so much on regarding the diocesan bishop as the moderator of the liturgy and the true liturgist, since he is a successor of the Apostles; the explanation seems rather obvious, however, if we look at classic, typically Curial compromises.

It is obvious that whereas an Ecclesia Dei institute is directly controlled by the competent Vatican organ, with a constitution that has been signed and countersigned (I will provide an example in a moment), a bishop who used the 1962 liturgical books could not be controlled on those same terms.

Consequently the formal, peremptory request to proceed to ordinations according to the new rite is the external sign that is deemed sufficient to prove that the ordinands (and the bishop himself) fully accept article 19 of the Instruction; by adopting the new rite for the event that is undoubtedly the most important and significant one in their lives and in the life of the diocese.

Finally, this request has a force similar to the almost universal practice involved in the application of the 1984 Indult: in the various dioceses in which the indult had been granted, it was asked that the traditional rite not be celebrated at Christmas and Easter, so as to allow the faithful to manifest their own tie to the parish and hence their acceptance of the rite of Paul VI.

Quite significant, along this same line, was the injunction imposed in 2000 on the Fraternity of St. Peter to agree that their own members could freely celebrate according to the new rite, combined with a warm invitation to concelebrate with the diocesan bishops at least on Holy Thursday, so as to express their own communion with the local ordinary and hence their public and wholehearted acceptance of the Novus Ordo Missae; note that although the Fraternity of St. Peter is an Ecclesia Dei institute, this measure proved necessary just at the moment when some refractory members within the congregation were voicing in louder tones their opposition to the rite of Paul VI. In that same difficult situation the Superior General at the time was deposed directly by the Ecclesia Dei Commission and replaced with a priest who was not selected by the chapter but rather imposed by Ecclesia Dei itself.

The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship then was Cardinal Medina Estevez, whereas Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos had recently been appointed President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission.

That being the case, the injunction of the Instruction, together with the above-cited article 19, seems to be inspired more by the indult of John Paul II than by the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI.

Now, however, it has been declared by Benedict XVI himself that the 1984 Indult claimed to grant generously, in some cases and on certain precise conditions, the use of a missal which in reality had never been abrogated: Universae Ecclesiae seems to fall back into that canonical and moral absurdity, which is comprehensible only within a context of disdain and fear—I would rather not say hatred—with regard to anything remotely Tridentine.

Dulcis in fundo [Last but not least], since everyone knows that the Society will never accept either article 31 nor article 19, all the malcontents at the one end of the spectrum are now criticizing it for its “disobedience”, thus seeking to show off their own “legality”, while at the other end they watch it, hoping that its intransigence will indirectly obtain something positive for them too.

And so we see again the mechanism of “sequebatur a longe ut videret finem” [“following at a distance so as to see the outcome”] and of utilitarian hope placed in the Society that we referred to earlier.

The twentieth anniversary of the death of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre occurred in 2011. At a distance of two decades this figure continues to spark debate, and it even seems that with the passage of time he arouses more and more interest in ecclesial and cultural circles. To what do we owe, in your opinion, this “second youth” of a prelate whom many had dismissed as old and anachronistic?

Archbishop Lefebvre embodied something imperishable: the Tradition of the Church, and if there was a bishop in whom Tradition never ceased to be “living” (if I may use the expression), it was certainly the “rebel” bishop. For example, the one prelate who never stopped celebrating publicly in the traditional rite, which was then mistakenly considered abrogated and banned, was the founder of the Society of St. Pius X: he did not merely hand on to new generations a printed, dusty missal, but preserved and transmitted a real, living treasure which is present every day on the altar, with which he was totally and personally involved.

If someone truly begins to realize that the crisis in the Church is rooted and manifested above all in a crisis of the priesthood and of the liturgy, it is inevitable that one will refer to the man who spent all his energies to save both.

Therefore it is inevitable that if one speaks about the Tridentine Mass or Tradition, even the most reluctant critic will be forced to speak about him, if only to distance himself from him and thus to certify his own political correctness.

But anyone who speaks about him, for good or for ill, cannot do so without speaking about a Tradition which, far from being “Lefebvrite”, is simply and forever Catholic.


1 In reality the simple priest is obliged to recognize the full legitimacy of the new rite at least on the day of his own ordination, as the following lines clarify.—Editor’s note.


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