Demonic French Episcopacy is Significantly Negative About Summorum Pontificum -- Blind to Crashing Numbers of Priestly Vocations and Lay Participation in French Church Overall
France's Bishops' Conference turns out to be blind in one eye and judges Summorum Pontificum mostly negatively.
(Paris) The majority of France's bishops believe the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum brought good fruit. The corresponding questionnaire of the Congregation for the Doctrine and the Faith answered the French Bishops' Conference in the negative and sets itself apart from the overall positive tone of the feedback.
In April 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a questionaire to all diocesan bishops and superiors Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. Then in 2007, Benedict XVI restored the traditional Rite to validity and scope in the Latin Church, as it had been denied it since the liturgical reform of 1969/70. The questionnaire is used by Rome to take stock of the implementation of the motu proprio and the experiences surrounding it.
The discovery of the Roman initiative caused some unrest in traditional church circles. In the wake of the liturgical reform, they have had bitter experiences, especially in the 1970s: the traditional rite was suppressed, priests who clung to it had to endure harassment and punishment, and people generally pretended that the Rite was like it had been in force through the centuries until the day before.
It was not until the 1980s under John Paul II that Rome took the first conciliatory steps. With Summorum Pontificum, finally, it is clear that the traditional Rite was never forbidden and that such a prohibition would also be unthinkable. Above all, it allowed all diocesan and religious priests to celebrate it without special permission from superiors.
In the “motherland” of tradition, things rub against it
Although the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith interviewed every bishop and territorial superior personally, the questionnaire was often answered collectivelythrough the local episcopal conference. But not in France, where the bishops submitted the answers individually, but the Bishops' Conference then created an accompanying summary with which a negative judgment was transmitted to Rome as a whole. France is considered the "motherland" of tradition. There it was able to assert itself most strongly despite the rebellion of the Church movement of 1968 and the upheavals after the concil, which is inextricably linked with the figure of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who became the publicly visible spokesman for the resistance against the innovations.
The two lungs in France's Catholic chest are rubbing accordingly to this day. There are "two worlds that do not meet", this is how the Bishops' Conference of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith describes the relationship between the traditional and the new rite or the respective priests and believers. InfoCatolica wrote:
“The bishops of Gaul believe that the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of 2007, with Pope Benedict XVI. normalized the celebration of Mass in its last form before the liturgical reform, was well-intentioned, but did not bear the expected fruit. "
The negative overall judgment was flanked with an ideological swipe. "Monarchist and rigorous tendencies" have been lamented among the faithful who attend Holy Mass in the traditional rite.
There is no mention of the fact that the liturgical reform in the face of emptying churches could even less claim to have borne “the expected fruits”.
95 percent of the dioceses responded
In total, all but five French dioceses (with the exception of those of the Eastern Churches united with Rome) answered the questionnaire. Only in four dioceses there is no Mass location of the traditional rite, while most dioceses indicate one or two places for the Traditional Mass.
Some dioceses have established personal parishes and thus created a separate jurisdiction for the faithful in the traditional Rite.
In 24 dioceses, Mass sites are looked after by the Society of St. Peter (FSSP), in 18 dioceses by diocesan priests, including a bishop emeritus, and in 16 dioceses by the Institute of Christ the King and High Priest (ICRSS).
The most important centers of the traditional rite are the dioceses of Fréjus-Toulon, Paris and Versailles. The diocese of Fréjus-Toulon is headed by Msgr. Dominique Rey, a bishop close to tradition. In his diocese there are ten permanent places of mass in the traditional rite. There are six in the Archdiocese of Paris and seven in Versailles, on which seventeen holy Masses are regularly celebrated on Sundays.
The Episcopal See of Versailles is currently vacant. On December 17, 2020, two months before Bishop Eric Marie Aumonier turned 75, Pope Francis accepted his canonically prescribed resignation. Monsignor Aumonier, who was previously Auxiliary Bishop of Paris, had directed the diocese since 2001.
Instrumental understanding of Summorum Pontificum
As expected, the chapter on the relationship with the Society of St. Pius X (FSSPX) turned out to be negative. The bishops generally approve of Summorum Pontificum however, in that the Motu proprio even prevented more division and migration of believers to the Society of Saint Pius X. However, that is not the only possible way to achieve this goal. The majority of the bishops also indicate that they view Summorum Pontificumnot in the sense of Benedict XVI. as meritorious - liturgically and ecclesiologically - correct and as a necessary act of reconciliation, but above all instrumental. The Motu proprio did not in fact resolve the Episcopal Conference in the expected leading of the Society towards full unity with Rome.
Some bishops have positively pointed out that the two forms of the Roman Rite have created an openness to other forms of spirituality. Most bishops, however, complain about tendencies towards isolation, which they believe to be one-sidedly recognizing on the traditional side. Also, it turns out that for many bishops the Benedict XVI's concern, even thirteen years after the entry into force of Summorum Pontificum was not understood and certainly not received.
France's bishops attest that the motu proprio in the local church resulted in a de facto “biritualism”.
A bishop stumbled upon it: “The Eucharist that should divide one”. Others, however, positively stated that the greater presence of the “extraordinary form of the Roman rite”, as the traditional rite is called in the Motu proprio, created opportunities for greater unity with the local churches.
In the opinion of the majority of French bishops, however, the negative experiences with the traditional rite clearly outweigh the positive ones.
The fact that with the liturgical reform, coinciding with other post-conciliar deficits where priestly vocations have massively collapsed, is not addressed. Many French dioceses have no seminarians, others only one or two. Here, too, there are only a few outstanding exceptions. In first place by far again Fréjus-Toulon, Paris and Versailles. At the same time, the relationship among the seminarians is gradually shifting in favor of the seminaries and communities of tradition.
The wishes of the bishops
With regard to the proposed improvements, the bishops wish above all for the faithful of the traditional rite to participate more closely in the life of the diocese, for greater unity in the liturgical calendar of the two forms of the Roman Rite and for the promotion of a uniform reading order.
Regardless, the bishops speak in their majority for the repeal of Summorum Pontificum, although this desire is not formulated directly. The aversion to tradition, however, remains unbroken.
52 current shepherds of the 95 Latin dioceses of France (including the military ordinariate) were appointed by Pope Francis.
Since Benedict XVI. made clear that the traditional form of the Roman Rite has not been repealed, or even forbidden, and it is undoubtedly legitimate, to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass in the Editio typica 1962 in the Roman Rite, it is "questionable, despite their negative judgment, whether France's bishops seek to repeal the Mass," says InfoCatolica.
Globally the positive assessment of Summorum Pontificum outweighs the negative. In the German-speaking areas Measurement sites in the traditional Rite have quadrupled.