Wednesday, February 3, 2021

"Is the Anemic French Church Really Prepared to go to War Against the Traditionalists Again?"

(Rome / Paris) Abbe Claude Barthe, the spiritual assistant of the 
International Pilgrimage Summorum Pontificum and editor of the journal Res Novae, analyzed in an interview the summary of a redactor, which put together the individual responses of the French bishops to questionnaires Summorum Pontificum to a negative overall opinion to Rome.

In Spring 2020, the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine and the Faith sent a questionaire to all diocesan bishops and territorial superiors in the world to review of the implementation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

The answer had to be given by July 31, which was negative in France. Overall, despite positive feedback, the French bishops spoke out against an extension of the motu proprio. reported: French Episcopal Conference Judged Summorum Pontificum Negatively.

The French Bishops' Conference decided in advance that the 95 diocesan bishops, including Military Ordinaries, should transmit  their answers to the General Secretariat of the Episcopal Conference. A ten-page summary was created there, replacing the individual answers.

The traditional French website Paix Liturgique made  its sumary known a few days agoLe Rouge & le Noir ,  published an Interview with Abbe Claude Barthe about the tenor of the summary presentation. Barthe is a well known priest of tradition, spiritual assistant since 2012 of the annual international Pilgrimage Summorum Pontificum to Rome, editor of the magazine Res Novae and a proven liturgy expert. He is best known as an expert on the current Church crisis, which he has analyzed for many years. His most recent book "La Messe de Vatican II" ("The Mass of the Second Vatican Council", publisher Via Romana), published in December 2018, is also dedicated to the topic.

Abbé Barthe explains in the interview that the Bishops' Conference commissioned the Office of the General Secretariat to draw up a summary. However, he sent a hint ahead of his analysis:

Abbé Claude Barthe

“In order to understand the context of this investigation [of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith], it should be known that there is a powerful interest group in the Italian episcopate and at the Roman Curia, including the State Secretariat, which is very hostile to the status quo, which is the granting and privileging of traditional liturgy through the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum by Benedict XVI."

According to Abbé Barthe, this anti-tradition interest group succeeded in abolishing the Pontifical Ecclesia Dei Commission, which was downgraded to an office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the FaithIn order to "silence" these voices, Pope Francis commissioned the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to take stock of the global situation.

“In theory, the bishops had to convey their answers to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But the Italian Bishops' Conference decided to collect and summarize the answers. " 

A collective answer was made out of the responses that the bishops had individually requested for their jurisdiction. The French bishops and the episcopates of other countries followed this example. The French summary, which reformulated a large number of answers into a unified opinion, was sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and all bishops. It was leaked and published by Paix Liturgique.

This summary reinforces an actually existing aversion to tradition and the traditional Rite to a negative judgment.

“The editor has created a summary that is hostile to the traditional liturgy, or at least to its excessive visibility as a whole. Of course, he also lists the positive results in relation to Summorum Pontificum that the bishops indicated in their replies: pacification, response to a pastoral need, positive influence on the serious celebration of Mass in the ordinary form, but they are systematically minimized."

According to the editor of the summary, the traditional rite is "not missionary": 

"(...) what makes you speechless when you know that the parish masses are always empty, while the celebrations of tradition fill up and provoke a not inconsiderable number of conversions, especially among young people."

 The summary confirms this development, but explains it in the sociological style of religion, disparagingly, with an alleged “fragility” of these people and their desire for an identity that comforts them.

The Latest Book by Abbe Barthe

The inconsistency of the summary, so Barthe, becomes evident where on the one hand it claims that the Masses of the traditional rite gather on average only 20 to 70 people, but at the same time it is said that the traditional Mass has meanwhile become "a matter of course" in France and Summorum Pontificum has created an actual “bi-ritualism”.

The fact is, according to Abbé Barthe, that “many bishops” are not comfortable with this situation and that they “would like to restrict and reduce it”.

When reading the summary, according to Le Rouge & le Noir, one could get the impression that it is directed primarily against the Society of Saint Peter (FSSP). In fact, according to Barthe, it is directed against all communities of tradition.

“Against the Society of Saint Peter because its priests refuse to concelebrate Maundy Thursday with the diocesan clergy; Against the Institute of Christ the King and High Priest, for reporting that a bishop was surprised that this institute organized a trip with young people under 18 to attend ordinations in Gricigliano (an inappropriate seduction of minors ...); against all communities because of the allegedly “poor” training of their priests. This suspicion is clearly directed against the Society of Saint Peter and the Institute of Christ the King and High Priest. " 

As these examples show, the summary also reveals a “deep ignorance of tradition”, according to Le Rouge & le Noir . The question was whether it was out of ignorance or malice.

Abbé Barthe actually speaks of a "sometimes astonishing ignorance of the matter". In the summary it is claimed that sermons by priests of the tradition are "mediocre". Such a claim, so Barthe, should "make you smile when you think of many parish sermons". The summary becomes “ideological” if it continues to claim that the sermons are “too old-fashioned”, that catechesis is out of date and “too little conciliar”.

“How should one qualify the quality of ignorance that leads the French Bishops' Conference to claim that the Society of St. Pius X is outside the Church ? The Bishops' Conference knows, however, that Pope Francis recognized the power of their priests to hear confessions and to enter into marriages. " 

Abbé Barthe confirms that there is a widespread desire among France's bishops not to allow the celebrations of holy masses to be “increased” in the traditional rite. They want to urge both the priests of the communities of tradition and the faithful to “bi-formalism”.

Consecration of the Society of St. Peter

"It is doubtful that Pope Francis will follow them, simply because he is not interested in the subject." 

On the other hand, “there could be long-term pressure on the Ecclesia Dei Institutes” to urge them to “bi-formalism”, that is, the celebration of both forms of the Roman rite.

"It can happen that they are reduced to customary law, that is, like all religious institutes, are subject to the jurisdiction of the religious congregation and no longer that of the Congregation of Religious ." 

Abbé Barthe does not mention any specific examples, but alludes to a procedure that, but came in mentioned in other canonical context in the past to use, for example, against the Franciscan Immaculata or Trappists of Mariawald.

"If this were to be done through complaints from certain members of these communities, through canonical visitations and other means, these institutes could be destabilized."

However, “we haven't got there yet”. And one more aspect of the summary is important to Abbé Barthe:

"With regard to the adherence to the Second Vatican Council, the document of the Bishops' Conference rightly states that the link to the traditional liturgy has doctrinal bases."

“In summary, one could say that the fluidity of the teaching (a slip on my part!) On which the Ordinary Rite is based, especially with regard to the Eucharistic Sacrifice, has to do with the fluidity of certain texts of the Second Vatican Council that says the gray to avoid saying either black or white,"

And finally Abbé Barthe notes:

“'A world of its own, a parallel Church is taking shape,' laments the episcopate's editor in his summary. Now Summorum Pontificum tried, with a kind of brilliant handicraft, to create precisely this peaceful coexistence between the two 'forms'. This is largely unbearable, says the Bishops' Conference, which wants Rome to narrow the scope of the traditional liturgy. But does the anemic Church of France, which has fewer and fewer believers, priests and funds, have the ability to go to war again, as in the years after the Council?"

Text: Giuseppe di Nardi
image: Le Rouge & le Noir / MiL /

Trans: Tancred



Anonymous said...

The novus ordo in France is a wreck, attendance at mass and the sacraments by baptized novus ordo Catholics is almost nonexistent. The only French citizens who attend mass and the sacraments are traditional Catholics. French traditional seminaries are overflowing with priestly vocations there are also many thriving traditional communities of French nuns. French novus ordo seminaries and convents are empty. The bitter angry Covid worshiping novus ordo French Catholic church is the object of scorn and ridicule by French atheists and secularists and French novus ordo bishops are under criminal investigation in France for their mishandling of sexual abuse cases. See

Et Expecto said...

The document issued by the French Bishops states that the average attendance at Extraordinary Form Masses averages "only" between 20 and 70. However, if one reads the document carefully, it discloses that the Sunday Masses offered at 6 churches in Paris attract congregations of between 1,100 and 1,300. It also discloses that in the Diocese of Verseilles, the Extraordinary Form is offered at 17 locations, which attract Sunday congregations of 5,500. Putting these figures together, these 23 churches have average congregations of average of 291 at EF Masses. The The stated averages of between 20 and 70 would seem to be a gross misrepresentation of the truth.

It is also noteworthy that the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon offers EF Masses at 10 locations. This would seem to indicate very considerable interest in the traditional Mass in that Diocese.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone in France really care about this? France willingly abdicated her place of importance in the Church after VII. That "Eldest Daughter" stuff flew out the window a long time ago.

The Traditional movement should continue on, thanking God for the numbers that they have. Thanks to the leadership and example set by the SSPX, the growth will continue.
The Trads are the only people in France who care about Catholicism.

Tancred said...

I’d say religion is very important to most real Frenchmen.