Why this hardship without a glimmer of grace or compassion? - A commentary by Fr Daniel-Ange on the most recent Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes
Father Daniel Ange is one of the most famous priestly personalities in France and founder of the prayer and evangelism school "Jeunesse Lumiere", from which numerous priestly vocations also emerged. After 30 years of monastic life (including 12 years in Rwanda), Fr. Daniel Ange felt the call in the 80s to bring the good news to the young people. At events of the Charismatic Renewal in German-speaking areas, many thousands of people regularly came to his events.
kath.net publishes a letter from the priest on the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes exclusively for the German-speaking area:
I am amazed and dismayed by this Motu Proprio. The least we can say is that it knocks us out! I share the tears of so many of my friends and relatives. I pray that they will not be led to bitterness, resentment, if not outright riot and despair.
Why this hardship without a glimmer of grace or compassion? How can we not be amazed, destabilized?
Of course, among those Catholic brethren who cling to tradition, there are some who - alas! Oh! - hardened, rigid, closed, withdrawn into a ghetto, up to and including the refusal to concelebrate at the chrism mass - which is inadmissible. But wouldn't it have been enough for this small minority to issue a clear warning, combined with the possible threat of sanctions? Inspired by the Book of Wisdom: “That is why you punish sinners little by little; you admonish them and remind them of their sins so that they will turn away from wickedness and believe in you, Lord. But you spared even those because they were human; you sent wasps ahead of your army to gradually destroy them. you only carried out the punishment little by little and gave room for repentance. You knew exactly that their origin was evil and their wickedness innate and that their thinking would not change forever ”(12, 2, 8, 10). [Naturally, no one who contributes here (I hope) agrees with this assessment typical of Charismatics and the dry conservative wing in the Church.]
Refreshing oases in a desert of general apostasy
But does the Pope know, when he only speaks of France, that there are wonderfully bright groups and communities there that attract many young people, young couples and families? The sense of the sacred, the beauty of the liturgy, the contemplative dimension, the beautiful Latin language, the docility to the Seat of Peter, the Eucharistic zeal, the frequent confession, the fidelity to the rosary, the passion for the souls to be saved and so many other elements that they cannot find - alas! - in many of our parishes.
Aren't all of these elements prophetic? Shouldn't they challenge, stimulate, drive us? Wasn't this the intuition of Saint John Paul II in his Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei"?
Young people, households and families dominate their communities, with almost 100% attendance on Sundays. It should not be said that they are nostalgic and anachronistic. On the contrary: Latin, mass ad orientem, Gregorian chant, cassock: all this is new to her. It has the allure of novelty.
Is it surprising that monastic communities that hold the Office in Latin and sometimes even the Eucharist according to the Missal of St. John XXIII. celebrate, flourish and attract a lot of young people?
I am thinking in particular of communities that I have gotten to know personally and that I appreciate and admire, such as those of Le Barroux (monks and nuns) and ND de la Garde, as well as the Missionaries of Mercy in Toulon. It is not to be said that they are not missionaries! The Marie Madeleine Chapter with its hundreds of teenagers, not to mention the retreaters who gather there, is grouped around the first. For the latter, there is no better way to evangelize Muslims and our little pagans on the beaches. Not to mention the ever-growing Whitsun pilgrimage to Chartres.
Along with the Boy Scouts and the St. Martins Community, this ecclesiastical movement is the one that brings the most priestly vocations to the Church. I am witness to the wonderful enthusiasm that prevails in the seminary of Wigratzbad in Bavaria, which was founded thanks to a certain Cardinal Ratzinger.
In a world so tough, where the struggle for fidelity to Jesus and His Gospel is a heroic one, where they are marginalized, despised and mocked already in schools and in their families, in which all their values are despised, if not prostituted, in which they feel terribly alone and isolated, so insecure, sometimes on the verge of desperation: why, but why are they denied these few fortresses that give them the strength, the courage, the boldness to go into the resistance and persevere? We are in the midst of a tumultuous time for the Church, in the midst of the collapse of faith in the world. The war against Christ and his Church is unleashed, we are in the middle of a murder-against-prince-of-life duel, young people have more than ever a right to be supported, strengthened, armed, and simply secured. We shouldn't close some of our most beautiful hideaways to them. Like a high mountain hut in the middle of deadly crevasses.
In the arid desert of a society in which "the quiet apostasy of man who believes to be happy without God" (John Paul II) is gaining ground, these groups and communities are true and refreshing oases. Her most beautiful flowers are the young people and even children who have reached the shining heights of holiness. How could one not mention Anne-Gabrielle Caron of the Parish of the Missionaries of Mercy in Toulon, whose beatification process has already begun? And the little martyr Jeanne-Marie Kegelin in Alsace, whose two brothers are priests of the Fraternité S.Pierre. (Provided that is not the reason that would delay this thing).
A sterilization syringe?
After all that, how can one understand that the Pope is apparently only aiming at their annihilation, dissolution, pure and simple liquidation? By simply applying the standards now imposed? This can be seen in the fact that their priests are torn out of their parishes and they are forbidden from planting new parishes: isn't that a kind of sterilization syringe? That no new priest of the ordinary rite can celebrate the so-called Tridentine Mass without the permission of his bishop, who is obliged to obey Roman guidelines.
John XXIII is no longer part of the Roman rite, since its "only expression" is now the unique missal of Paul VI. This rite is ipso facto a thing of the past, is outdated and is in a vacuum without weight ...
Isn't this a stab in the back or rather in the heart of our dear Benedict XVI? His stroke of genius was to save this Rite by simply making it the second variant or form of the only Roman Rite. What courage did he need! And this was by no means out of pure diplomacy or ecclesiastical politics, as the Motu Proprio suggests. How many times has he not affirmed that this Rite, which sanctified the Christian people, watered the whole Church and produced so many fruits of holiness over so many centuries, is now fully right and an integral part of the Latin and Roman Liturgy.
It was a scandal to try to eliminate them 60 years ago. And suddenly, with the stroke of a pen, it is overridden by a Pope who is certainly less liturgical than Benedict XVI.
Will Benedict XVI. in his monastic retirement have to ask his successor for permission to celebrate this Rite again, which he loved so much and which he knew how to save so masterfully?
Risk of split or underground?
Here, too, our Holy Father's intention is certainly well and good: to protect communion among God's people. However, the effect is likely to be exactly the opposite.
I am trembling: many might simply be tempted to join Ecône and the Society of St. Pius X, who generously shook hands with Pope Francis in the Year of Mercy. About 40 years ago they heroically parted from Archbishop Lefebvre and returned to the Mother Church in Rome, where they were welcomed with open arms by Pope John Paul II (how could the luminous figure of John Paul Hivernat of Ecône and then Rome and Versailles be forgotten, in the wake of holiness). And now they are forced to say: “You don't want us anymore: We are going back to where we came from”. So many sacrifices have been made for nothing! John Paul II and Benedict XVI. loved and understood us, as did many wonderful and courageous bishops, and we were betrayed overnight.
In short, there is a real danger of "schisms that will flourish on all sides when abrupt bishops exercise their power over rigid abbots" (G. Privat). Otherwise the temptation is great to go underground ...
Doesn't the Trinitarian community mean intra-Catholic ecumenism?
Isn't the ecclesial communion that of the Most Holy Trinity (Jn 17), i.e. that of beauty in all its diversity? The greater the differences - provided that they are lived as a complement - the more beautiful the Church. Isn't being different a condition for fertility? Why is it so difficult for us to receive, accept and love these baptized brothers and sisters with their sensitivity, their longings, their specific charisms, even and especially when they are not our own? Why should we impose our own preferences on young people who are already so sensitive? There is even a congregation dedicated to them in Rome. We admire their magnificent divine liturgies, whether Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian, Syrian, Maronite, Melchite, Russian-Byzantine or Greek, and we refuse to accept the Latin and Roman liturgy in their traditional form!
It would only be logical if we standardized all monastic or religious life! Benedictines, Cistercians, Carmelites, Poor Clares: Goodbye! All spiritual movements should be unified in all their troublesome variety. Neo-Catechumenate, Focolare, Charismatic Renewal, Oaza, Communione e liberazione: exit! Benedictine, Carmelite, Franciscan, Dominican, Jesuit, Vincentine, Salesian etc. Traditions and sensibilities: trash! In the bin!
No and no, unity is not uniformity, but diversity! Community is not horizontality, but complementarity!
Saint John Paul II put it aptly in his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei: “But it is also necessary that all pastors and other believers become aware anew that the diversity of charisms and traditions of spirituality and apostolate is not are only legitimate, but represent a treasure for the Church; in this way unity in diversity becomes beauty - that harmony which the earthly Church, stimulated by the Holy Spirit, lets rise to heaven ”.
Will you hear the screams and tears of your own children?
Has the Holy Father gauged the effects, if not the earthquake, that such intransigence threatens to wreak within the Church and even outside the Church? That an atheist with an undeniable charisma like Michel Onfray dares to admit that he is "dismayed". He said, “The Latin Mass is the legacy of the genealogy of our civilization.” And with his usual sarcasm, which of course I don't share, “For those who believe in God, the Latin Mass is that compared to the Mass on the long calm river which is a multi-purpose hall like today's Roman Basilica of St. Augustine... Augustine's contemporary Roman basilica is comparable to a multi-purpose hall in a block of flats: one looks in vain for the sacred and transcendent.”
Has he thought of the shock that our brothers will experience in the holy Orthodox Churches? They were reassured by the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI, who is valued by them as a great theologian: that the Latin Church would faithfully preserve and protect a liturgical Rite that has endured for centuries. And now they ask the anxious question: Aren't we going to throw it away?
Did he foresee the probable earthquake among so many young people, young couples, entire families who will be destabilized, unsettled, discouraged and led to revolt? Up until now they have loved their Pope Francis - as lovable and confusing as he is - they have been loyal to the Roman Magisterium, and now they are here, threatened by doubts, suspicion, if not rejection, with the bitter impression of being betrayed, denied , if not to have been betrayed.
How can we not cry with them?
May at least a great wave of baptized compassion, brotherly and fatherly affection of our bishops, ardent prayers surround them, comfort them, support them, encourage them, welcome them. Eager. Generous. That is, loving.
Dear Holy Father - whom I love, cherish and admire -, on behalf of many of my friends, young and old, I dare to convey to you, in all childlike simplicity, my deep sorrow. But, inspired by a maddened confidence, I venture to hope that, with the many tears on the cheeks of your own children, you will have the courage and the humility to reconsider such an unrelenting decision, despite your last words: "In spite of everything speaks against it, even if it is worth a special mention ".
Against all hope, I hope!
July 23rd, 40th anniversary of my ordination, at the International Eucharistic Congress in Lourdes
(c) the translation from French by kath.net
Trans: Tancred email@example.com