Brian Mershon
May 11, 2006
Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos says indult includes all 1962 sacraments
Interview with Archbishop Burke
By Brian Mershon

(From the May 18 edition of The Wanderer)

Archbishop Raymond Burke, who previously consecrated his former Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is known as one of very few bishops in the United States who has sincerely been "wide and generous" (Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, by Pope John Paul II, June 1988) in allowing all of the Classical Roman rite sacraments in his diocese. He has begun to show his benevolence toward the Classical Roman liturgy and sacraments also in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, as will be shown later in this interview.

Bishop Fernando Rifan, the only traditionalist bishop in full communion with the Church, has cited Archbishop Burke and three other U.S. bishops as being "wide and generous" in allowing the Classical Roman rite liturgy and sacraments in their dioceses, according to the mind of the Holy See (Pope John Paul II, and now Pope Benedict XVI) as requested in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta.

With Archbishop Burke, The Wanderer has now interviewed three of these four bishops, who interestingly, have quite similar attitudes of openness to the Classical Roman rite. Specifically, they want to ensure the priest requesting the indult knows Latin sufficiently and is well trained in the rubrics of the sacred rite. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., and Bishop Alvaro Corrada of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, were interviewed previously (January 26 and February 9, 2006).

+ + +

Q. At the November 2005 Una Voce Conference in Providence, R.I., Bishop Fernando Rifan mentioned your name, along with three other bishops in the United States, as being wide and generous in allowing the Classical Roman rite liturgy in your dioceses for those who desire it. What is your policy for your priests?

A. I always understood the mind of Pope John Paul II, and I believe it continues to be the mind of Pope Benedict XVI, that bishops should be very generous in permitting the celebration of Holy Mass and the other sacraments according to the rites that were in force in 1962. So I have always tried to provide that for the faithful. Certainly, any priest who requests the indult in order to be able to celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 Roman missal, I have always granted that.

I want to make sure of course that the priest is prepared. Sometimes a younger priest will request the faculty and then I always make sure he has someone to help to learn the rite so that it is celebrated with great dignity.

Q. What has your experience been with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest?

A. Given the demands on priests today, as I experienced both in the Diocese of La Crosse, and as I am now experiencing in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, I have always tried to establish some centers of the apostolate for the Old Mass. I have been very blessed to come to know the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest in a little way while I was working in Rome, and then after I came to the Diocese of La Crosse and I was looking for some priests to help with this apostolate, they were willing to give me that help. It has been a very good relationship.

In the Diocese of La Crosse, there was a very large territory. There were four centers where the Mass and the other sacraments were being celebrated, and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest had charge of two of them. At the two other places, diocesan priests were doing it.

In St. Louis, we have two centers now. One is at St. Francis de Sales right in the heart of the city, and then the other one is at the Passionist Monastery. The Institute of Christ the King has charge of the one at St. Francis de Sales. A new community in its first years of existence, the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, have charge of the one at the Passionist Monastery. [Editor's Note: Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer is the founder of this new traditionalist community.]

Q. After the March 23 and April 7 dicastery meetings with the Pope, there has been much expectation for some further indulgence for the Classical Roman rite liturgy and/or for traditionalist Catholics. Do you have anything you know that you could share with us?

A. I have heard the report that the Holy Father was going to give what has been described as a general indult; in other words, giving all priests the permission to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 missal. I have heard that report, but I have not had it confirmed in any official way.

However, I did have some correspondence with Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, the president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, because a question was raised to me regarding the validity of the celebration of the other sacraments other than the Holy Mass according to the rites in force in 1962. Apparently, among some people somewhere, this question arose. They believed there was no permission to do this, and what is more, if a bishop or priest was doing this, that these celebrations were not valid.

Now, as a canonist, and being somewhat versed in sacramental theology, I knew that this could not be possible because these rites were celebrated for centuries, and were valid celebrations. It could be that if the Pope had forbidden it, that it wouldn't be licit. In other words, it wouldn't be licit to celebrate those rites, but they would certainly be valid.

Because this is something that is very important, and something we need to be very clear about, I wrote to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. He wrote me back a very encouraging letter, and he assured me that it was indeed the mind of the Holy Father that bishops be generous in permitting the celebration of all the sacraments in the former rites. So that question was answered for me.

He told me in the letter that I should certainly feel free to share this communication with any bishop who inquired, or who I thought would be interested in it.

Q. How do you see traditionalist communities and a potential more free celebration of the Classical Roman rite sacraments aiding in the New Evangelization and the restoration of the Church?

A. It is clear to me that there has to be a continuity between the rites, both those in force in 1962, and those that are currently in force. I think the generous permission to celebrate the former rites will help us to see the richness of the 1962 missal and other sacramental celebrations, and in that way, will help us to be more faithful in carrying out the reforms mandated by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.

In many ways, in my mind, the liturgical reform that was asked for by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council is still very much needed, especially in terms of the New Evangelization. In other words, the liturgical rites should express as fully, as beautifully, and as richly as possible the mystery of the faith the doctrine of the faith according to the ancient maxim that "the law of praying is the law of believing."

So I have great hope there will be restoration of the sacred liturgy along those lines absolutely faithful to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, but underlining more the continuity in the celebration of the sacred rites.

I have found in this regard the writings of Pope Benedict XVI when he was a cardinal of the Church works like The Spirit of the Liturgy, to be most instructive and helpful. I certainly have shared his mind very much in this. I think that in that regard [the Sacred Liturgy], he is expressing the mind of the Church.

As a priest, he took part in the sessions of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. He studied so deeply those teachings, but also in the context of the whole Tradition of the Church. I have taken to heart very much what he has written.

The Action Of Christ

Q.
So in other words, you believe that having the 1962 Mass and sacraments offered more freely, could serve as a benchmark or anchor for the "reform of the reform" and the Novus Ordo Mass and sacraments?

A. I think that it is essential that there is a clear unity between the Novus Ordo and the 1962 Roman missal, and I think that will be helped very much when the celebration of the former rite is permitted and is appreciated in that way. It will help us very much.

In putting it into simple terms....What happened with the reform of the liturgy after the council was a dramatic simplification of the rites, and then an opening to a kind of experimentation, which if one reads carefully Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Pastoral Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, it really was not warranted. And with that came a loss of the transcendent dimension of the Sacred Liturgy a loss of the sense that these are actions of Christ.

In the Sacred Liturgy, indeed, really and truly, earth meets heaven and they are joined. These are sacred rites. But somehow during the reform, there was a loss of the sense of the sacred rites, and there developed in some people's minds that the liturgy was our creation, and was our tool for self-expression.

This is not the case. The liturgy is the action of Christ safeguarded and handed down in the Church for the sanctification of the people. You could only call it self-expression in the sense that we express Christ's life within us. But that happens by the grace of Christ and by our fidelity in the celebration of the Holy Mass or one of the sacraments or any of the sacred rites we may be celebrating.

I think, for instance, from the time I was a young priest, one thing that always disturbed me greatly was that whenever any priest when celebrating the Mass, he would either make up the Eucharistic Prayer, or tamper with it. It always struck me that here is the most sacred action, the most treasured gift from Christ we have in the Church handed down from Christ and the apostles faithfully in an unbroken line. How could I ever think that I could improve on that? Or that somehow I had to make it my creation instead of this most treasured gift received in the Church with gratitude and with the highest respect, care, and attention?

Interest Among Younger Clergy

Q.
Does it surprise you that so many younger diocesan priests and seminarians are interested in offering the Classical Roman rite of Holy Mass?

A. I wouldn't have an idea about the percentages, but I would say that among the seminarians and young priests, I did find in general an appreciation of the old rite inasmuch as they knew it, or they were interested in learning more about it. And there were some young priests who asked for the indult to celebrate the Mass [in La Crosse], and also here [in St. Louis], I have had the same experience.

I don't know what happened after the council. There developed a reaction against the rite of Mass as it was celebrated. It was as if it had to be banned from the face of the earth, or the reform could not take place.

Whereas, with the young seminarians and priests today, they don't have that attitude. They don't see it as as some kind of contradiction. Even though they normally participate in Mass with the Novus Ordo, they don't see it [Classical Roman rite] as some kind of contradiction.

Q. Two preconditions of continuing of dialogue with the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) are the freeing of the Classical Roman rite of Holy Mass for all Latin-rite priests and an acknowledgment of the lifting of the decrees of excommunication for the four SSPX bishops.

Bishop Fellay told Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos that in 1964, Pope Paul VI lifted the decrees of excommunication against the Eastern Orthodox, so couldn't the Pope perform such a gesture for the SSPX, who only wants to continue offering Holy Mass and catechizing the lay faithful as Catholic priests have always done. What are your thoughts and comments?

A. That is a very delicate and difficult subject. I am not the most deeply versed in all of that literature. But I have received some communications from one of those bishops consecrated against the will of the Holy Father.

Apart from the concerns about the Sacred Liturgy, a deeper issue there is the acceptance of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff and his authority over the Sacred Liturgy. And in the most extreme forms I have seen, it verges on sedevacantism. In other words, a denial that the See of Peter has been occupied since Pope Pius XII, servant of God.

In any case, I hope for a reconciliation. But there will have to be a change of hearts for those have claimed that either Pope Paul VI or Pope John Paul II defected from the Catholic faith. They have to have a change of heart.

Q. Do you see any benefit to the unity Latin and Gregorian chant breeds with the continuing influx of Spanish-speaking Catholics into the United States?

A. I think that is one of the great blessings of Gregorian chant and the Latin language is its universality and drawing us together. I think it certainly can be a great help.

In particular, if one sees the celebration of the pontifical liturgies in Rome the liturgies of our Holy Father if we are able to sing some of the responses in Gregorian chant, and some of the responses, that Latin is the language that draws us all together.

I remember when I was a boy we were farmers, so we didn't travel very much but I remember people who traveled that would come and visit our home, this was the great thing: Everywhere they traveled, wherever they went to Mass, it was the same. You could be in Hong Kong or New York City or Paris, and Mass was always the same.

So I think if there could be recovery of at least some standard elements in terms of the music such as the use of Gregorian chant and the use of the Latin texts in communities that are diverse this would be wonderful!

Q. Do you think that Pope Benedict XVI will offer the Classical Roman rite of Holy Mass from the high altar at St. Peter's Basilica? Do you think he should?

A. First of all, I cannot presume to know the mind of the Holy Father and I have never spoken to him about this. I believe that it could happen, and I think that if it did, there should be no cause for wonder. Under Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos offered Solemn Pontifical Mass according to the 1962 missal at the Basilica of St. Mary Major. He did that as one of the Pope's closest collaborators. I think it could happen.

But I am not going to put myself in the position of declaring what Pope Benedict XVI should or should not do. But if it happened, I don't think anyone should be in wonderment that it happened or see it as some kind of difficulty in the Church.

This is the rite of the Mass that I grew up with while until I was in high school. It inspired my vocation to the priesthood. It was an essential part of my own spiritual formation and growth. And that would be true for a number of people.

Now some younger people who didn't know the former rite, but have become acquainted with it, find it very spiritually enriching, so it shouldn't be a difficulty for us if the Holy Father would celebrate that rite.

Q. Do you have any closing comments?

A. One hope that I have is that with a greater appreciation of the older rite being more widely celebrated, and the enrichment that will bring, under the direction, of course, of our Holy Father, the whole areas of sacred architecture, sacred vesture, sacred vessels, that a great enrichment will take place in that regard. [I hope] a recovery of something that was lost [will take place].

I see in that regard, with a recovery, an active interest in Gregorian chant. I think it expresses this deeper impression for the Sacred Liturgy over the centuries.

© Brian Mershon

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Brian Mershon

Brian Mershon is a commentator on cultural issues from a classical Catholic perspective... (more)

Subscribe

Receive future articles by Brian Mershon: Click here

Latest articles