Thursday, February 02, 2006

... more on the Una Voce Conference

This was an original commentary on the Conference

Providence brings Bishop Rifan to Una Voce conference

Brian Mershon

November 30, 2005

From the December 1, 2005, edition of The Wanderer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Amidst buzz in Catholic circles about the possibility of an imminent freeing of the classical Roman rite of Mass, Bishop Fernando Rifan offered a Solemn Pontifical Mass from the throne and delivered the keynote address, highlighting the tenth anniversary conference of Una Voce America in Providence, R.I., November 18-20.

And on Saturday morning, he treated Mass attendees with his musical playing ability by slipping down from his chair near the altar to play the organ during the communion of the faithful, as well as for the recessional — to the delight of those assisting at Holy Mass.

Bishop Rifan is currently the sole bishop in the world with the permission from the Holy See for his diocesan priests to offer the Holy Mass and sacraments exclusively according to the Missal of 1962. He said that the cause of tradition was very hopeful in the new pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and is currently much brighter in the U.S. than perhaps many realize.

"You have four bishops who allow all their diocesan priests to offer the Traditional Mass [privately] at any time," Bishop Rifan said. He specifically cited Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb.; Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Ill.; and Bishop Alvaro Corrada, SJ, of Tyler, Texas, who have been generous in the Ecclesia Dei indult application, as requested and emphasized repeatedly by the late Pope John Paul II.

A spokesperson from the Diocese of Lincoln explained that Bishop Bruskewitz requests a "courtesy" from his priests prior to offering the Mass publicly, as it is traditional for the bishop to have jurisdiction over the Masses offered in his diocese. For instance, Spanish, Vietnamese, and all regularly scheduled public liturgies must be offered with the bishop's knowledge and consent.

Bishop Rifan, the superior of St. John Mary Vianney Apostolic Administration in Campos, Brazil, offered the Holy Sacrifice from the throne with the permission of Bishop Thomas Tobin, and gave encouragement to Una Voce leaders from all over the U.S. and Canada who attended the three-day conference at Holy Name of Jesus Church in downtown Rhode Island.

"Una Voce is a force in the Church now," Bishop Rifan said to an audience of 200 laymen and women and 10 priests in his keynote address on Saturday, November 19. "We have many hopes with the new Pope, and we must pray for the Pope," Rifan said.

And perhaps due to the uptick in rumors about a possible pending universal indult for all priests to offer the classical Roman rite, Bishop Rifan emphasized the need for patience. He said that sometimes bishops know things, but the laity must understand they cannot disclose everything confided to them by the Pope.

"I will defend you always, especially Una Voce, when I speak to the Pope," Bishop Rifan said.

The newly elected president of Una Voce International, Fra Fredrik Chrichton-Stuart, president of Una Voce Holland, gave attendees reason for additional hope. He said that Bishop Rifan meets with the Pope often to discuss the concerns and spiritual needs of traditional Catholics, and quoted Msgr. Camille Perl, secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, who recently told Una Voce International leaders:

"There is a new wind blowing in the Church," with Pope Benedict XVI in office. Msgr. Perl also told the Una Voce leadership in an October meeting in Rome that the Ecclesia Dei Commission has been shown a new level of respect since the new Pope has been in office.

Fra Chrichton-Stuart also added that he is aware of many younger priests in the Church who are attracted to the classical Roman rite of Mass. But he also emphasized the need for patience and for praying for the Pope during these early stages of his pontificate.

Both Pope Benedict XVI and Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation of Clergy and president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, have told Bishop Rifan that traditional Catholics such as the Campos apostolic administration, priests and lay faithful, as well as Una Voce members, are seen as a model for the rest of the Church.

"You are the example in preserving the tradition in full communion with the Holy See," Bishop Rifan stated Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos told him.

Bishop Rifan said that Catholics had the right to criticize certain problems with the new rite of Mass, and developments after Vatican II, but "with charity and from within the Church." He also cautioned against a tendency toward over-criticism, especially toward bishops, who represent the apostles and are vested with authority from Jesus Christ.

The Search For Holiness

Fr. Joseph Wilson, associate pastor from St. Luke's Church of the Diocese of Brooklyn, began the conference with some hard-hitting analysis and questions. "Forty years ago, there were a lot of optimistic books looking for the golden age of the future," he said. "If the past 40 years has been a renewal, I would really like to see what a disaster looks like," he said.

Fr. Wilson explained that perhaps in the pursuit of attempting to become more palatable to the world, the Church lost track of its primary mission. He suggested that self-affirmation and the search for sexual autonomy replaced the search for holiness, then this helped to contribute to the current crisis in the Church.

"The Orthodox fast for nearly half the year," he said. "We have taken many traditions and have decided to ignore them — to take the easy way out," he said. He recommended a return to reading the fathers of the Church, and to recapture many of these lost traditions, which the Orthodox have maintained. "We decided the old wisdom no longer applied," he said.

He explained that the Church leaders, many laity, priests, bishops appear to "have lost the ability of self-reflection." The "signs of the times" that Gaudium et Spes emphasizes, have not been read well in the past 40 years, according to Fr. Wilson. He encouraged people to read an article headlined "The End of Gaudium et Spes," by Dr. James Hitchcock, from a previous issue of Catholic World Report.

"How did we lose the ability to criticize ourselves?" he asked. He also said that an accurate reading of "the signs of the times" is necessary in order for the Church to find its way out of the current crisis.

Bishop Rifan indicated that in recent meetings with both Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, he stressed the importance of providing Catholics the full use of the traditional sacraments and devotions so they could conserve the traditional Catholic way of life. "Personal parishes [traditional] are needed," Bishop Rifan said.

Become A Saint

Other highlights of the conference included Bishop Rifan outlining numerous points on what it means to be a traditional Catholic, as well as an emphasis on the centrality of devotion to the Holy Eucharist. He repeatedly stressed the theological virtue of charity.

Reaffirming the proper and rightful place of traditional Catholics within the Church, Bishop Rifan quoted Pope Benedict XVI from the Cologne World Youth Day: "Only saints can restore mankind. The Church does not need reformers — it needs saints! We will reform the Church by becoming saints," he said.

"Martin Luther tried to be a reformer," he said. "St. Athanasius was a saint," and through the process of becoming one, he reformed the Church.

He also cautioned attendees from paying too much attention to rumors and conspiracy theories. "In my 30 years in the priesthood," Bishop Rifan said, "I have offered only the Traditional Latin Mass." He said that because he is a bishop in the Universal Church, he sometimes must attend Masses offered using the Missal of Pope Paul VI.

"However, just because I attend these Masses occasionally, does not mean that I necessarily agree with everything that goes on," he said.

This may be a reference to some Catholics associated with Society of St. Pius X, currently in dialogue with the Holy See in order to possibly resolve their canonical irregularities (but "not in formal schism," according to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos). Some Catholics and web sites sympathetic to the Society of St. Pius X have repeatedly accused Bishop Rifan of "selling out" traditional Catholics due to his occasional attendance at concelebrated Masses with other priests and bishops.

Among other suggestions to Una Voce leaders, he encouraged them to defend "correct ecumenism." According to Bishop Rifan, this means that with charity in our contacts with non-Catholics, we should "ask them to return" to Christ's Church, and also pray for their conversions. He said that in Campos, as part of the New Evangelization, his priests and laity engage in door-to-door missions while handing out tracts, and they politely invite those they encounter to consider the truth of Jesus Christ through His Church.

Focus On The Supernatural

Msgr. Michael Schmitz, the U.S. vicar general and provincial for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, gave a rousing closing talk Sunday afternoon on the importance of tradition. "Many times people have come to me and told me, 'Father, I know I must become Catholic because I have been to Mass,'" he said.

Msgr. Schmitz also agreed with Bishop Rifan's positive assessment of tradition in the United States. "American society is much more traditional than European society," he said. "In Europe, the traditions have been almost destroyed."

"Tradition in the Church is supernatural, and therefore, we should not speak of the Traditional Latin Mass," he said. Instead, "we should speak of the Mass because it is God's Mass; it is the Mass God wants us to celebrate," Msgr. Schmitz said.

"Many believe that tradition is something dusty — that the word should be avoided," he said.

He explained that all people, regardless of their religious, or even political, leanings, have a routine, a custom, a tradition they follow on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis.

Simply speaking, according to Msgr. Schmitz, tradition is "some worthwhile learning that is received by us by someone who gives it." This "handing on," is traditio — the Latin root for tradition. All learning takes place through the use of tradition.

"Education at every level is traditional — even if sometimes the contents are not worthwhile," he said. But when tradition is applied to divine Revelation, then tradition's importance is increased — "in the realm of God." Msgr. Schmitz said that Catholics should try to permeate their daily life with tradition through the use of sacramentals, devotions, holy water, and other things to keep the focus on the supernatural.

With regard to Tradition and divine Revelation: "Everything is reception. Everything is gift. Everything is Tradition," Msgr. Schmidt said.

Bishop Rifan emphasized this same theme during his keynote address the previous evening. "To be a traditionalist means to defend the doctrine of Christ as King!" Bishop Rifan declared. "To be a traditionalist means to be attached to the Traditional Latin Mass because it better expresses the Catholic doctrine on the Holy Eucharist," he said "To be a traditionalist is a Catholic way of life: It is not just the Mass," he said.

The Reform Of The Reform

Fr. Thomas Kocik, from the Diocese of Fall River, Mass., and author of The Reform of the Reform, published by Ignatius Press, said he believed the 1962 Missal must be the starting point for any reform of the 1970 Missal of Pope Paul VI. "When you are doing a complicated math problem, and it comes out wrong, you go back to the original place where you began to go wrong," he said. Fr. Kocik said he believed the coexistence of the classical rite of Mass was vital for a proper reform of the current normative rite of Mass.

Fr. Kocik also raised the question as a possibility of the Campos, Brazil, apostolic administration being used as a model diocese, and possibly eventually applied to traditional Catholics throughout the entire Church.

When asked if he thought Pope Benedict XVI would publicly offer the classical Roman rite as Pope in St. Peter's Basilica, he said he "did not know." When asked if he thought the Pope should offer it, he said that based upon the Pope's own positive previous writings about the classical rite, "I think he should."

Brian Mershon is a commentator on cultural issues from a classical Catholic perspective. His trade is in media relations, and his vocation is as a husband to his beloved wife Tracey and father to his six living children. He attempts to assist his family and himself in attaining eternal salvation through frequent attendance at the Traditional Latin rite of Mass, homeschooling, and building Catholic culture in the buckle of the Bible Belt of Greenville, South Carolina.

© Copyright 2005 by Brian Mershon

Una Voce Conference in Providence

I am really sorry I missed the Una Voce Conference in Providence. Here are two articles that talk about the conference. Here are Bishop Bruskowitz and Bishop Corrada talking about the Tridentine mass and the way in which the Novus Ordo mass can be improved over time. (note: this does not constitute an endorsement of the site "renewamerica" I am only referring to these articles)

Bishops Bruskewitz and Corrada expect 1962 missal to play important future role

Brian Mershon
February 1, 2006

"We're in the middle of the disintegration of the Latin rite" — Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.

Bishop Fernando Rifan of the Apostolic Administration of St. John Marie Vianney, Campos, Brazil, said there were four U.S. bishops who allowed their diocesan priests full approval to offer the Classical Roman rite of Mass while delivering the keynote address for an Una Voce America Conference held November 18-20 in Providence, R.I.

His words of encouragement to U.S. traditional Catholics at the conference, coupled with those of Msgr. Michael Schmitz, U.S. provincial superior, Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, made it clear that the growth of traditional communities in the United States is being recognized in important corridors in the Church. It is also perhaps of significance to note that Msgr. Schmitz was ordained a priest by Pope Benedict XVI, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in 1982.

Bishop Rifan specifically cited Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis; Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb.; Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Ill.; and Bishop Álvaro Corrada, SJ, of Tyler, Texas, as having been generous in the Ecclesia Dei indult application, as requested and emphasized repeatedly by the late Pope John Paul II.

As a followup to the December 1 issue of The Wanderer, which covered the conference in detail, both Bishop Bruskewitz and Bishop Corrada agreed to explain why they have been so generous to both their own diocesan priests and laity whose spirituality is centered in frequent access to the Classical Roman rite and sacraments.

Q. The December 1 issue of The Wanderer, had a quotation from His Excellency, Bishop Fernando Rifan of the St. John Mary Vianney Apostolic Administration in Campos, Brazil, citing you as being among four bishops who allow your diocesan priests wide and generous access to offer the Traditional Roman rite of Holy Mass. Is this accurate?

Bishop Bruskewitz: Bishop Rifan is a very wonderful bishop, and he has come to visit me. We are good friends. While I haven't given "blanket permission" for the celebration for the Tridentine Mass in the diocese, it is, however, a permission that I give very readily, and has never been refused for those who have requested it.

The reason I require a request is that, first of all, the priest has to assure me he knows the rubrics and knows how to celebrate the Mass in the Tridentine rite. And secondly, that he has some familiarity with the Latin language that would be adequate for celebrating in the Tridentine rite. And third, that there would be some pastoral need for it, either the people calling for it, or the priest's own personal devotion would be in that direction.

[To summarize], they have to know how to do the rite. Number 2, there has to be some familiarity with Latin. And number 3, there has to be some reason for it.

Now, a priest who wants to celebrate the Tridentine rite individually, personally or privately without other people present, I grant that readily. I have never refused any request [by a priest] to do this. I have several priests who do this quite regularly, the Tridentine rite, who don't belong to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), who do this regularly. We have their presence in our diocese as well. We have no difficulty with that.

Another provision I am always a little leery about is the mixing of rites — the Novus Ordo and the Tridentine rite. Priests are not authorized to use a little of one rite and a little of the other in the same liturgy. It has to be a clear, unequivocal celebration of the Tridentine rite or the Novus Ordo.

I do have a blanket permission for any priest who wants to celebrate the Novus Ordo in Latin, they can do that, just as they do in Spanish or Vietnamese and other languages in our diocese.

Bishop Corrada: I have given permission, and I will give permission, to any priest who wants to say the liturgy according to the 1962 missal. One thing that I would want to see would be, 'Are the priests ready to do so?' So I would require proper training for it in both the Latin and the rite itself — the Latin and the rubrics.

The reason is that I think the Mass according to the 1962 missal, especially with John Paul II opening it up, it should be a normal thing for any priest who wants to do so, and is trained to do so, to make it available to the faithful and for himself. So it [Bishop Rifan's statement] is accurate in that sense. I would be open to that. [This comes] from Ecclesia Dei Adflicta.

The Fraternity of St. Peter has the privilege to say Mass exclusively according to the 1962 missal. But my diocesan priests also are required to say the Novus Ordo because of pastoral reasons.

Q. You mentioned the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) having a presence in your dioceses. How long have they been there? What has been your experience with their priests?

Bishop Corrada: Yes, we have a mission that will eventually become a parish. As a matter of fact, next week [January 2], they will have a place of their own we are buying. It is a Baptist church we are converting into a parish. It is a mission, but it is their own place, and I want it to be arranged just for Mass according to the 1962 missal with the Blessed Sacrament on the altar and the Communion rail and everything else.

They have been here for two to three years. I am very happy with them. I came to that decision because when I arrived here, I met for several months with a group of families who wanted to have Mass according to the 1962 missal. After discussions with them, I realized that it would be better for them to have a priest from the Fraternity to come to establish a mission. I have the Mass in another parish in the southern part of the diocese by a priest who was ordained in the Novus Ordo, who most generously says the Mass, and knows how to say the Novus Ordo and the 1962 missal.

I also have a couple of other diocesan priests who have also been trained to say the Mass. They can back up the Fraternity of St. Peter priest when he is on vacation or on retreat, or if there is an emergency [and he is not available to say Mass].

It is a normal way of life. The priest from the Fraternity of St. Peter participates in all of the life of the presbyterate and the other priests in the diocese. As a matter of fact he doubles as a part-time secretary to me because we don't have many priests who have the skills necessary to help me. His name is Carlos Casavantes. [Editor's Note: Fr. Casavantes was ordained by Pope John Paul II].

Bishop Bruskewitz: In our diocese, we have St. Francis Chapel in Lincoln, where the Priestly Fraternity priests preside and they have the Tridentine rite entirely and totally and use the 1962 missal and calendar. They do have significant numbers who attend Mass there, which is fine. As a matter of fact, they may eventually evolve into actually being a full-fledged, non-territorial parish, but right now, they don't think they are ready for that step. I think they have 90 households or something like that, or 100 households.

But they also have people who frequent it who might not be registered, and of course this is not unusual.

In the Diocese of Lincoln, the Novus Ordo Mass is done with great care and rubrical exactness. And as a result, we don't have large numbers of people, as they do in some other places, who want to frequent the Tridentine rite. For instance, where I lived in Milwaukee, I think that huge numbers who attend Mass in the Tridentine rite are really refugees from liturgical abuses they have found in other areas.

There are some people who are antiquarian who like the ancient rite just for its own sake. There are others who are aesthetically inclined. They love the polyphony and Gregorian chant and the atmosphere of the Latin language, and other kinds of things. Then there are others who simply like the more quiet, restrained and devout and meditative, contemplative aspects that sometimes are absent in some of the celebrations of the Novus Ordo.

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has been a real blessing to our diocese, and we are delighted to have them in our midst. Their seminary appears to be flourishing and seems to be prospering quite well. That is — Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary — they own and operate here. It is a joy to have been able to welcome them here. I think they [FSSP priests] are very widely, and well, accepted by everybody in this area.

A Corrective To Abuses

Q. Bishop Bruskewitz: You mentioned there are few widespread abuses in Lincoln; so perhaps not as many Catholics have sought refuge in the Tridentine rite as in some other dioceses?

Bishop Bruskewitz: I am not opposed at all to the Novus Ordo. As a matter of fact, it is the other way around, I think there are many pastoral advantages to it. But like in every human enterprise, there is a lot of room for improvement. And I think the Tridentine rite can serve as a corrective to abuses sometimes [for the Novus Ordo].

Q. Bishop Corrada: How many families initially approached you for the Classical Roman rite liturgy and sacraments?

Bishop Corrada: Forty to 70 families. This diocese is comprised of 33 counties, so there are many other families we are not serving at the moment because we only have one Mass in the southern part of the diocese, and one here in Tyler, which is the center. We will have to open up one more in the north and also to serve other people [elsewhere], and I am open to that.

Q. How many diocesan priests celebrate the Classical Roman rite of Mass regularly either publicly or privately? Do you have any plans for training your diocesan priests or seminarians in the liturgy of 1962?

Bishop Bruskewitz: Of all the priests, there are at least three who offer the Tridentine rite with a reasonable amount of regularity. There are others who have done it sporadically when it has been requested or for a special occasion. But once again, I have never refused a request by any priest who wants to celebrate the Tridentine rite and have never found a reason to refuse such a request.

Bishop Corrada: I already have some of my priests who are learning the Mass. And I know of at least one seminarian who has trained himself to say the Mass. The vicar general is able to say the Mass now, and we have at least two or three other priests who are training themselves to say the Mass in order to substitute for the priest of the Fraternity.

Q. Why are you so generous in allowing the Classical Roman rite? Is it because of Ecclesia Dei Adflicta and "wide and generous application" requested of bishops by the late Pope John Paul II?

Bishop Bruskewitz: We are very happy, of course, to conform to what the Pope said about being generous and in making use of the indult. But there are other motivations as well as that. I have an affection for it. I was ordained of course in the Tridentine rite, and in my first years as a priest celebrated that way. So I don't have a disdain for it. I can see some pastoral disadvantages due to the language and some other areas. So I think the Novus Ordo does have some pastoral advantages.

On the other hand, people who find the Tridentine rite to be more devout — or a way for them to be more devout — I guess I would put it — that would be a way to accommodate such people.

I think also the fact there was present in the Diocese of Lincoln some time ago a schismatic group associated with Archbishop Lefebvre's group from Econe, Switzerland. They were in the diocese, and they had one of their priests come and say Mass at a pagan cemetery chapel. To make it possible to accommodate people who might be being led astray into schismatic — or separation — from the Church of Christ, it served its good purpose because these people have disappeared now, or they have come back into the Church of Christ through the Tridentine rite.

I think where the Novus Ordo is done reverently and correctly, and with the proper amount of devotion, and with proper aesthetics, it can serve a wonderful purpose. I think that especially the way this Holy Father offers Holy Mass provides a lot of wonderful and correct inspiration and example for the whole world. I think he recently spoke to the Sistine choir explaining how the Papal Mass must be exemplary because of television.

I think that once again, we have to be frank. For many young people, Latin is as strange as Chinese or something. They don't know anything about it. They don't really have an affinity for it. Unless you have done some studies and have some acquaintance with Latin and the classical and historical heritage of the Church and Western civilization, it doesn't mean much. The language is always a problem.

I'm not entirely delighted with the vernacular translations. Thank goodness there is some effort to improve them, both in the liturgical books as well as in the Lectionaries — in the biblical readings. I think these flaws are becoming more apparent as time goes on. There were flaws in the celebration of the old rite sometimes, but the people didn't notice them because they didn't understand the Latin and they didn't see the priest and they didn't know if he was saying the words clearly. So I don't think we can adopt just one thing or the other.


Q. What has influenced your thinking with regard to the sacred liturgy?

Bishop Bruskewitz: I think Msgr. [Klaus] Gamber's books about the reform of the liturgy and what the Holy Father himself has written, as Cardinal Ratzinger, about the liturgy, are extremely important.

There was a lot of paraliturgical stuff that was not part of the [Second Vatican] Council, but it sort of derived from it. I think a lot of those things lent themselves to distortions. Things that became possible in a short time became necessary, and then became imperative. So there became a sort of evolution in that direction [newness] that I don't think always was the best.

Q. Bishop Corrada: Many bishops and priests cite possible "divisiveness" as one of the primary drawbacks against traditional Catholics. Yours is a missionary diocese? What has been your experience in a region heavily populated by Protestants?

Bishop Corrada: I also encourage converts through the Fraternity parish. They are baptized and received into the Church to follow the 1962 missal. So we have some converts coming in because this is a missionary area. There are many Protestants. If they want to enter and go to the Tridentine Mass, the information is given for the sacraments of initiation there as well.

In this diocese, they are received, and every one is part of the Latin rite. And in the Latin rite, we can have the liturgy according to the Missal of 1962 or the Novus Ordo. I make no distinction with that. And all of the sacraments and everything should be equally received and participated in. Some families have more preference for this [1962 missal and sacraments], and I am very open to that.

Q. There was nothing in any document from the Second Vatican Council or after it authorizing the priest to offer Holy Mass versus populum (toward the people). But there are but a handful of places in the entire U.S. where Mass is offered regularly facing God in the Novus Ordo liturgy. This is simply amazing. What is your reaction to this?

Bishop Bruskewitz: It causes at least to some extent, a distorted liturgical view. The coram populo altars....[In Rome], they had both kinds. I was ordained a priest in Rome in 1960. The catacombs, some went this way and some went another way, and it made no difference. The major point is that they were oriented toward the East.

Facing coram Deo, before God, if you face that way, you have the correct impression — that the priest is standing in the person of Christ mediating between God and the congregation — exchanging words and gifts with God on behalf of the congregation. That is a clear thing. The temptation when the Mass is coram populo is that one thinks the personality of the priest has to come through or that somehow or another, a priest is talking to the people when he's addressing God. It's exacerbated because you have some of the prayers to God and then you are talking to the people: "Let us offer each other the sign of peace."

The people get the impression the priest is somehow entertaining them or addressing them, which is a misunderstanding of what is going on.

So I think there are a lot of difficulties in that regard. That is one good example, and with Msgr. Gamber, I think that stuck in his craw pretty high. And I can't disagree with him that it would have been better had there have been a more gradual evolution. There has not been a historical liturgical development — the sudden eucalyptus from Mt. Olympus that changes the whole element.

On the other hand, we have to live with where we are now. You can't cut down the oak tree to get back to the acorn. And so I think that is the major pastoral problem confronting the hierarchy of the Church — how to take what we currently have, and where do we go from here?

Q. What role do you think the Classical Roman rite can play in this regard?

Bishop Bruskewitz: I do think that adjacent to the Novus Ordo Latin rite, it is helpful to have the Tridentine rite as a sub-rite of the Latin Church. It calls us back to roots, and I think it has certain internal kinds of corrective possibilities to keep the Novus Ordo from going off the wall on the other side.

Q. What do you think the Pope will do? Universal indult, personal apostolic administration, territorial traditional bishops, or some other structure for traditional Catholics?

Bishop Bruskewitz: I've heard speculation about all those things and I have no special information about them because nobody has consulted me about them. There is talk about a kind of prelature like Opus Dei. There is talk about Bishop Rifan who has a floating diocese in Brazil, so there may be some indications along those lines.

Being a bishop myself, I can see where some of the bishops are nervous about divisiveness. As I said, you can go from virtue to necessity very fast. And people say suddenly something is permitted, and then all of sudden it becomes necessary, and then the other is not permitted. I think that is largely what happened with the liturgy on the other side. It was permitted to have a coram populo altar, and then all of a sudden, it was necessary to have it. And so I think this may be what some conscientious bishops might be nervous about.

There are those that are simply adamant about it. They feel we have discarded this and we shouldn't try to recover it. I would say that the bishops out in the trenches who might be a little bit more leery about a universal indult might worry about a divided presbyterate or people being at loggerheads with each other.

Once again, my reservations would be along the same lines of what I mentioned earlier with my priests. I would want to make sure whoever is celebrating Mass in the Tridentine rite knows how to do it. Because I have seen it done poorly, sloppily, and incorrectly. They would have to know some basic Latin on how to pronounce the words. I've heard them mispronounced frequently. And I could see where it could be very startling for people to go to Mass on Sunday and all of a sudden hear a priest speaking a language they never heard, and doing things they've never seen. "What is this?"

Without adjoining catechesis and very careful instructions to any kind of indult that is granted would pastorally be a mistake. People would say, "Obviously, they don't know what they're doing." I have a certain sympathy for doing whatever we're going to do very slowly and not precipitously.

Conciliation And Reintegration

Q. What do you think about the possibility of a canonical structure similar to the Eastern rite Catholic churches in U.S. dioceses for Traditional Latin-rite Catholics?

Bishop Bruskewitz: I think that could serve a very good pastoral purpose to have some kind of arrangement, where there would be in the words of the Pope, this generous opportunity.

I think part of it, though, is there is a lot of ideological division. There are those who feel that the Tridentine rite, Ecclesia Dei indult is merely a transitional stage until these people get over it. There are those people, including even in the hierarchy, who feel that this is just a temporary expedient.

I disagree with them. There are even other more conservative people who say that once we get the Novus Ordo cleaned up, we will have no need for this. This puts a heavy burden on the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and others. I don't think the Church should be held hostage, for example to the Lefebvrite demands — "You must do this or else." I don't think that is very sensible in any way.

On the other hand, I think that conciliation and reintegration into the body of the Church for the Tridentine rite [is desirable and possible].

For years the Latin rite has had sub-rites. There is the Ambrosian rite in Milan. There is a Mozarabic rite in Toledo in Spain. The religious orders had all kinds of rites. The Dominicans had their own rite. And they were all little variants that arose because the evolution of the liturgy took place and these things were maintained in orders. So I don't see that it is not possible to have a sub-rite. As a matter of fact, it might be one of the reasons we don't understand what's going on right now.

We're in the middle of the disintegration of the Latin rite. You have drum beating in Africa and you have lots of bowing in Japan. This inculturation is really making a sub-rite division of the Latin rite. For centuries, rite depended primarily on language. You had the Byzantine rite divided into the Serbian, the Russian, and all the different [other languages]. I think the fact we have vernacularized means there is a division. The unification of the Latin rite, if it is going to be maintained as a unit, will probably depend largely on the Tridentine rite, indult-type celebrations.

Q. Your Excellency, isn't it ironic that as Catholics now frequently have the ability to travel more often throughout the U.S. and the world, where once all Catholics worshiped in unity universally, now a Catholic can walk into a church in any place in the world and not even recognize what is going on? What is your reaction to this?

Bishop Bruskewitz: You don't even have to travel. Sometimes in one major city you can you can go from one church to another. You have to wonder, "What is this about?" There are many people who are throwbacks to the 1960s who are making war against [what they call] rigid rubricism. They have never outgrown their initial distaste for this.

It is an American thing. People say, "If it is new, it is therefore better." And this kind of fallacy penetrates the culture. "We do it this way today which is so much better than it was done yesterday," which is kind of foolish.

It really comes from the commercialization of our culture; this is what we are told. People transfer this easily into the religious realm.

Q. Pope Benedict XVI has addressed this very issue in his writings on the liturgy. Liturgy is something that is supposed to be given by, and received from, our fathers in the faith, rather than something we create or innovate.

Bishop Bruskewitz: Absolutely. It is not created.

And furthermore, the laity has a right to a proper liturgy. Pope Paul VI emphasized this. It is not the priest's arbitrary bestowal upon the people, but it is the people who have a right to the Church's liturgy as it is supposed to be done. That certainly deserves emphasis.

Q. In view of the large Spanish-speaking segment in your diocese, do you see any advantage to having Mass in Latin, whether it is the Classical Roman rite or the Novus Ordo missal?

Bishop Corrada: The situation of so many Hispanic immigrants in the United States goes beyond the liturgy itself into welcoming the Hispanics, and all sorts of other immigrants, into the life of the parish. So that requires a lot of participation in Spanish programs, catechesis in Spanish, as well as in English. So that [Latin Mass] will not, in itself, take care of the Hispanics.

This article will be published in the February 9 issue of The Wanderer.

Brian Mershon is a commentator on cultural issues from a classical Catholic perspective. His trade is in media relations, and his vocation is as a husband to his beloved wife Tracey and father to his six living children. He attempts to assist his family and himself in attaining eternal salvation through frequent attendance at the Traditional Latin rite of Mass, homeschooling, and building Catholic culture in the buckle of the Bible Belt of Greenville, South Carolina.

© Copyright 2006 by Brian Mershon