Thursday, April 16, 2015

On the "Margins of the Church" -- Traditional Rite: Situation Report From Abruzzo

Holy Mass in Traditional Rite.  Don Gaston with his
Mass Servers

(Rome), Mass locations in the traditional Rite are  not available anywhere in the immediate vicinity. The Coordinamento Nazionale Summorum Pontificum(CNSP) in Italy recently reported the difficulties in the Italian region of Abruzzo on the Adriatic.

In the Episcopal city of Teramo  the Order of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate worked, who were birtually active in  ministry. This past February 11, the remaining brothers had to leave their friary on the instructions of the Apostolic Commissioner, Father Fidenzio Volpi.

In 2007, the diocesan Bishop Michele Seccia called upon the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate  to his diocese and gave them the recently abandoned (because of an absence of vocations)  Dominican Friary of the city. Since then, they have served the faithful in the traditional Rite according Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI.

Commissioner Volpi Took Away the Faithful's Mass Location

In August 2013, the religious leadership was deposed and Commissioner Volpi was commissioned by the Congregation of Religious  and with the approval of Pope Francis, to take control of the Order. His term is a raging against the traditional Rite and the traditional spirituality of the Order. The Commissioner has closed a number of friaries, including that of Teramo (see Commissioner Closes Convent of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate of Teramo ). Since then, the faithful have been deprived of their Mass location. This "collateral damage" (CNSP) apparently doesn't concern the Commissioner.

Marie Sanctuary Castelpietroso

Marie Sanctuary Castelpietroso

Finally, a priest who is only on temporary loan from the Diocese of Teramo-Atri has been found. Ironically, it is Don Gaston Munoz Meritello, an Argentine. He is chaplain of the parish of Castelnuovo Vomano. Teramo is  approximately 25 kilometers halfway to the sea. From the Adriatic town of Vasto to the south, however, it is an almost two-hour drive. It goes even further. In Abruzzo and Molise, the faithful who are accustomed to the traditional rite  have to travel long distances. Several bishops even aired their dislike of the Roman Rite also under Benedict XVI.

The now retired Archbishop of Campobasso-Boiano in Molise, Armando Dini, has deprived the Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception in autumn 2005, and prior to the promulgation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the Marian shrine to the Sorrowful Mother of Castelpietroso. The reason: because they put too much emphasis on a worthy celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in the New Rite. The  Order made the celebration of the traditional rite its own in 2008. The removal of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate was justified by the Archbishop as "necessary" to strengthen the "new evanglization" in the Archdiocese.

Tiny Chapel in Seclusion

The chaplain is not allowed to celebrate Mass in the parish church, but in a small chapel in a remote hamlet. The faithful are simply happy it's  possible at all. The celebration of the Holy Mass begins at 5 O'clock. "The small church of St. Andrew is tiny, but very old. Everything is very simple, not to say poor. The pews are the beautiful proof that here, generations of believers have knelt and prayed.  Modest and small it all may be, yet as soon as the celebration begins, the sacrifice of the Mass shines here in great dignity," said the reporter.

"A last resort" say the faithful of the local Coetus and they refer to the seclusion and the capacity of just 20 faithful. In Teramo  a remarkable community has formed. When the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate were sent off the locks of church and sacristy were changed. An unfriendly gesture.

Thankfully, the believers still have, however, Don Gaston. He is one of the two Argentine priests of the diocese.

"Margins of the Church" Hardly More Tangible Anywhere

The bishop has   with the change of Pope, left behind the pastoral open-mindedness. He asked the faithful to be patient so that he could find a "new solution". "A fairly unique situation," said Messa in Latino . "The bishop is looking for a new church, although the former church is empty." The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate had to go, but the old Dominican church of Teramo is still in place: "Now it is unused and locked," say the faithful who but give  to understand that they hope with patient trust and wait for the Bishop's call. "Meanwhile, these faithful believers take long road trips," said Messa in Latino . "That is also a job:  not to let the small flame go out."

"A handful of Catholics who were forced out of the city into the impassable undergrowth, because for them there is no place within the ever emptier churches in the city. The slogan of the, margins of the Church,' which someone has spread abroad, is hardly more concretely tangible than in this tiny country chapel," said Messa in Latino .

Text: Giuseppe Nardi
image: CNSP

Trans: Tancred

Link to Katholisches....