Sunday, June 15, 2008

A fascinating press conference

Many thanks to Damian Thompson for this account of the press conference with Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos on the occasion of his visit to Westminster Cathedral to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 missal. I was very sorry that I couldn`t be there but all seems to have gone well. Here is the transcript:

Traditional Mass for 'all the parishes'

Yesterday Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, announced in London that Pope Benedict wishes to introduce the "Gregorian Rite" – meaning the former Tridentine Rite – to every parish in the Western Church.

This was such a huge announcement that many Catholics can hardly believe their ears. I was one of four journalists present. Here are edited extracts from the press conference, in which the Cardinal completely demolishes liberal interpretations of Summorum Pontificum:

Elena Curti (The Tablet): Your Eminence, I’d like to ask what you make of the response of the Bishops of England and Wales to the Pope's Motu Proprio.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos: I think it's a good one. There are some probems because it’s a new way of celebrating liturgy and they need time to prepare priests and catechists on the content of the Extraordinary Form.

Reuters: In some parts of the world there seems to be resistance on the part of local bishops to allow the faithful their full freedom to celebrate the Extraordinary Form. What do you recommend that the faithful do?

CC: To be informed. Many of the difficulties come out because they don’t know the reality of the Gregorian Rite – this is the just [correct] name for the Extraordinary Form, because this Mass was never prevented, never. Today for many bishops it is difficult because they don’t have priests who don’t know Latin. Many seminaries give very few hours to Latin – not enough to give the necessary preparation to celebrate in a good way the Extraordinary Form. Others think that the Holy Father is going against the Second Vatican Council. That is absolute ignorance. The Fathers of the Council, never celebrated a Mass other than the Gregorian one. It [the Novus Ordo] came after the Council … The Holy Father, who is a theologian and who was in the preparation for the Council, is acting exactly in the way of the Council, offering with freedom the different kinds of celebration. This celebration, the Gregorian one, was the celebration of the Church during more than a thousand years … Others say one cannot celebrate with the back to the people. This is ridiculous. The Son of God has sacrificed himself to the Father, with his face to the Father. It is not against the people. It is for the people …

Damian Thompson (Telegraph): Your Eminence, would the Holy Father like to see ordinary parishes in England with no knowledge of the Gregorian Rite introduced to it?

CC: Yes, of course. We cannot celebrate this without knowledge of the language, of the signs, of the ways of the Rite, and some institutions of the Church are helping in that way.

DT: So would the Pope like to see many ordinary parishes making provision for the Gregorian Rite?

CC: All the parishes. Not many – all the parishes, because this is a gift of God. He offers these riches, and it is very important for new generations to know the past of the Church. This kind of worship is so noble, so beautiful – the deepest theologians’ way to express our faith. The worship, the music, the architecture, the painting, makes a whole that is a treasure. The Holy Father is willing to offer to all the people this possibility, not only for the few groups who demand it but so that everybody knows this way of celebrating the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.

Anna Arco (The Catholic Herald): On that note, would you like to see all the seminaries in England and Wales teach the seminarians how to celebrate in the Extraordinary Form?

CC: I would like it, and it will be necessary. We are writing to the seminaries, we are in accord that we have to make deep preparation not only for the Rite, but for [teaching] the theology, the philosophy, the Latin language …

DT: What would be the practical steps for ordinary parishes [to prepare for the Gregorian Rite]?

CC: If the parish priest selects an hour, on Sundays, to celebrate the Mass, and prepare with catechesis the community to understand it, to appreciate the power of the silence, the power of the sacred way in front of God, the deep theology, to discover how and why the priests represents the person of Christ and to pray with the priest.

EC: Your Eminence, I think many Catholics are rather confused by this new emphasis on the Tridentine Rite, mainly because we were taught that the new Rite represented real progress, and many of us who have grown up with it see it as real progress, that there are Eucharistic ministers, women on the sanctuary, that we are all priests, prophets and kings. This new emphasis to many of us seems to deny that.

CC: What is progress? "Progredire", means [offering] the best to God… I am surprised, because many young people are enthusiastic with the celebration of the Gregorian Rite …

EC: In the Motu Proprio, the Pope's emphasis is on one Rite and two forms, and he describes the Tridentine Rite as "extraordinary". Extraordinary therefore means exceptional, not something that we celebrate every Sunday.

CC: Not "exceptional". Extraordinary means "not ordinary", not "exceptional."

EC: Should it therefore supersede the new Rite? Should we go back?

CC: It is not going back: it is taking a treasure which is present, but was not provided. … But it takes time. The application of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council took years. It takes time to understand the deep profundity of the old Rite. The Holy Father is not returning to the past; he is taking a treasure from the past to offer it alongside the rich celebration of the new Rite. The second Eucharistic prayer of the new Rite is actually the oldest one [in the Church’s entire liturgy]. It’s not a matter of confrontation but of fraternal dialogue.

DT: Will there be a clarification of the Motu Proprio?

CC: Not exactly a clarification of the Motu Proprio, but of matters treated in the Motu Proprio, such as the calendario, ordinations to the sub-diaconate, the way of using vestments, the Eucharistic fast.

DT: What about the "stable group"?

CC: It's a matter of common sense … In every bishop's household there are maybe three or four persons. This is a stable group … It is not possible to give two persons a Mass, but two here, two there, two elsewhere – they can have it. They are a stable group.

DT: From different parishes?

CC: No problem! This is our world. Managers of enterprises don’t live in one place, but they are a stable group.

More on this later. The Cardinal went on to celebrate a traditional Pontifical High Mass at Westminster Cathedral, the first time this has happened since the 1960s. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor was not present, but had a brief (and rather cool) message of welcome read out on his behalf. No Westminster bishop attended this great event


Anonymous said...

Wonderful news, Father!

Frank E

Vernon said...

A very wide selection of photos of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos's visit are now on the usual web site at

A colleague and I were the LMS's official photographers and thus had access to places that the general pubic do not - hence some very different views of the ceremonies.

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate to be at yesterday's Mass in Westminter Cathedral, Father.

There are many first rate accounts in the blogosphere so I won't repeat them here. Suffice to say that it was a truly wonderful celebration. You would certainly have been pleased had you been able to make the journey.

It is more than evident of just what we Catholics have been deprived these past forty years - even if Pontifical High Mass was the exception rather the rule - by being denied access to what His Eminence describes as the "Gregorian Mass."

SolNcl said...

Deo gratias! I wish the Cardinal could come to Poland as well some day - we've got some 'progressive' and 'liberal' bishops here who need a proper telling off, too.

PeterHWright said...

I wish I could have been there !

I see from the photos posted by Vernon Quaintance at that Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor did receive Cardinal Castrillon in Archbishop's House (and apparently allowed him the use of his cappa magna), so there seems to have been no personal snub.

But I did wonder at the total lack of any auxiliary bishops of Westminster in choir, and no use of the throne room.

Of course, the Cathedral Administrator seems to have made a special effort, providing fine vestments, etc.

But Cardinal Castrillon's answers to the journalists would seem to suggest that Rome is not prepared to allow the motu proprio to be snubbed in England & Wales.

The landscape already appears to have changed since the publication of Summorum Pontificum, and Rome seems to be thinking of a wider interpretation of Summorum Pontificum than seemed to be the case in July 2007. I rather thought this might happen.

The practical difficulties of a wide reintroduction of the "old" Mass are, of course, huge, but not insuperable. I gain the impression the naysayers will not receive a sympathetic hearing.

Posts and comments on blogs in the USA and elsewhere would suggest that many Catholics around the world are watching the situation in England & Wales.

As far as I can see, nothing will happen quickly, but there are interesting times ahead, I think !

Augustine said...

Why doesn't it surprise me that The Tablet seems intent on derailing the whole interview...

Anonymous said...

There does seem to be a fair amount of journalistic licence here. The photographs of the event show both Cardinals Castrillon Hoyos and Murphy-O'Connor looking relaxed at their meeting in Archbishop's House.

The address Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos gave to the LMS, now published on NLM, has some interesting points:

The EF is not a museum piece and must be open to further changes; that vernacular has a place (for the pericopes) in 'less solemn celebrations; and, that with both forms the transferred holyday mass formulary is to be used on the Sunday.

HE does not say that the EF, or its future revision, is mandated in every parish.

Interestingly in the light of the recent debate about 'rules in force in 1962' I noticed HE did not wear what a Cardinal would have worn for his procession and entrance into the cathedral but the choir dress mandated by the reforms to prelatial dress of Paul VI in 1968

PeterHWright said...

I full agree with Old believer's comments, specifically that nothing mandatory has (yet) been said.

But I wouldn't read too much into the length of the cappa magna used in the entrance procession. I was told it is Westminster's cappa magna (shortened some years ago) which was used by Cardinal Castrillon. If he wants to use a longer one (and sometimes he does), he'll have to bring his own next time !

Alnwickian said...

The length of the cardinal's Cappa Magna was disappointing, as was the rather faint sound from the under-strength choir.

The latter were regularly drowned out by the noise from children of inconsiderate and irreverent parents.

Fr Michael Brown said...

I think it has been explained elsewhere that the cappa magna was the one lent the cardinal for the day. I`m sorry to hear about the noisy children. It only takes two or three to reduce any liturgical event to a frace. I don`t understand why parents don`t take children who are having tantrums out to the back of church but then I`m not a parent. However it is inconsiderate to others who are trying to follow the Mass.

Anonymous said...

The length of the cappa magna was perfectly in accordance with the rules in force in 1962. (I suspect some people are confusing the series of (IMHO unfortunate) reforms of Pius XII in the 1950s that shortened cappae, supressed some of the diverse forms of cardinatial dress and removed trains from choir cassocks).

As it is liturgically summer (although the weather would belie this) the cardinal should have worn a choir cassock of watered red silk, have worn a red silk cappa and his cincture should have been of watered red silk with two golden tassles. What he did wear was the dress of cardinals as per the 1968 rules.