Skip to comments.Bishop Fernando Rifan says traditionalists must show perfect communion with Pope, tradition
Posted on 06/25/2006 2:04:15 PM PDT by NYer
(From the June 22 edition of The Wanderer)
The great expectations of a pending "freeing of the Classical Roman rite of liturgy" have dissipated like April showers. It is now in the heat of summer, and a well-respected consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith was interviewed by the Mexican newspaper, Milenio, where he mentioned the possibility of a document freeing the Classical rite may be promulgated in October, a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, following the October 2005 synod on the Holy Eucharist.
Whether this was merely speculation on the part of Nicola Bux, or an informed opinion, remains to be seen.
As the spiritual father of many traditionalist Catholics worldwide, Bishop Fernando Rifan is the sole bishop in the world in full canonical communion with the Holy See who offers the Classical Roman liturgy exclusively.
Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, and Pope Benedict XVI have told Bishop Rifan (whose apostolic administration is a "floating diocese" in Campos, Brazil) that he and his priests stand as models for the Church to continue her 1,700-year-old liturgical traditions, within the full communion of the Church, but with full rights to continue to pursue the theology of showing the Second Vatican Council's teachings "in light of Tradition."
Bishop Rifan kindly granted this recent interview to The Wanderer, and we present it here in full to affirm that despite the recent absence of media and blog attention, it is most likely that the Pope, in consultation with his Curia, has already decided upon a specific course of action on the traditionalist front. It most likely will begin a systematic plan by first bolstering the spirits and "rightful aspirations" of traditionalists Catholics who are in full communion with not only the Church's doctrine and liturgical traditions and devotions, but are recognized as such by the Holy See.
Q. What would a "universal indult," "the freeing of the Classical Roman rite," or "reaffirmation of Quo Primum" mean for Catholics worldwide?
A. A universal indult for the Old Form of the Roman rite, conceded by the Holy Father, I think would benefit Catholics worldwide.
But it would not be a real reaffirmation of the bull Quo Primum. It would be a concession of this Pope, who has the power over the liturgy of the Church. But it is dependent exclusively upon the Pope to judge about the benefit to the Church.
Q. One of the two preconditions the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) have requested since 2001 was a public affirmation that the Classical Roman liturgy has never been abrogated. If this first step is eventually granted, what do you predict will happen next?
A. I think that it is very true that this affirmation of the cardinals that the Classical Roman liturgy has never been abrogated. The continuation of this usage, allowed by the Holy See, is a proof. But this universal indult has nothing to do with this precondition of the Society of St. Pius X; it will be a realization of the personal will of the Holy Father, independent of this good request.
Q. Do you think there are sufficient grounds for the Pope to grant the second precondition lifting the decrees of excommunications (or declaring them null and void) against the bishops of the SSPX and Archbishop Castro de Mayer?
A. The Pope can lift the decree of excommunication, as a sign of benevolence, in order to facilitate the conversations with the SSPX. That was my suggestion [to the Pope] during the conversations.
But it is not all. After this lifting of the decree of excommunications, they will be in the similar condition of the Greek Orthodox, from whom the Pope [Paul VI in 1964] lifted the decree of excommunication too. Afterwards, they will need the canonical regularization and the correction of doctrinal mistakes.
Q. How do you think a freeing of the Classical Roman rite will aid in the restoration of the Church worldwide?
A. I think that the Classical Roman rite is a paradigm, a model of a very good liturgy, with a wonderful sense of reverence and [the] sacred, and so can help all the priests, even those who say the Mass of Novus Ordo. But as I have written in my first pastoral letter, "Let's conserve the Traditional liturgy in union with the hierarchy and the living Magisterium of the Church, and not in contraposition to them." Let's use the Classical Roman rite like a form of demonstrating our communion with the Church because it is a rite of the Catholic Church and approved by the Church.
Q. What role do you believe the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), the traditionalist priests of Campos, Brazil, and a canonically regularized Society of St. Pius X can play in restoring and reforming the Church?
A. With this good spirit as I said, I think all the traditional groups can play an important role in restoring and reforming the Church, with their different characteristics and charisms, in perfect union with the Holy See.
Q. How will the FSSP and ICKSP and other traditional priests and laity be affected by any possible canonical guarantee (apostolic administration) that Bishop Bernard Fellay of the SSPX said Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos supposedly has ready and has presented to the Holy Father?
A. I think that the religious institutes already canonically erected will conserve their same structures and independence as now. Perhaps they will gain the possibility of more apostolates in the dioceses.
Q. Based on your knowledge of the younger diocesan clergy, do believe that many of them are interested in offering the Classical Roman rite? Do you have any evidence of this? Can you quantify it?
A. Cardinal Castrillon [Hoyos] has stated this. Here [in Campos, Brazil], we know many young priests interested in learning the Traditional Mass. We have received many priests here wanting to learn the Traditional liturgy. We even produced a didactic DVD to teach the priests the way of saying the Traditional Mass, with a good diffusion.
Q. I have been told by a reliable source, that at one orthodox pontifical college and seminary in the U.S., more than half of the students and seminarians desire to offer the Traditional Latin Mass. Would this surprise you? What do you think this might mean for seminary training in the future?
A. I know of other seminaries and non-traditionalist groups wanting to know the Traditional liturgy, with great interest. Sometimes they have invited our priests to say the Traditional Mass there, and they love it.
Q. The Pope and other notable priests and scholars have repeatedly emphasized the importance of having the Classical Roman rite of liturgy more widely available as an "anchor," so to speak, to measure the "reform of the reform" of the Novus Ordo in order to bring it more in line with the true organic development. How much importance do you think the Pope gives to the Classical Roman rite's role in assisting in a true "reform of the reform" in accord with the Latin liturgical tradition?
A. I think that this is the thought of the Pope, as he has written many times in his books. We have a great hope.
Q. Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos' influence has obviously been great. When the new Pope was introduced a year ago by Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez, there stood the last two cardinals who were voting age for the conclave who were active at the Second Vatican Council. What do you think Cardinal Medina Estevez's influence on returning the Traditional Latin liturgy to its rightful place has been?
A. I think that the Holy Spirit really has demonstrated the good direction for the Church in this conclave. Let's pray for the Church, our family, our Mother.
Q. Do you think Pope Benedict XVI will offer the Traditional Latin Mass from St. Peter's Basilica? Do you think he should?
A. I don't know, but it would be a wonderful thing.
The Real Reasons
Q. As a closing note, is there anything you'd like to discuss or elaborate upon further?
A. I would like to explain the incorrect and the correct reasons of conserving the Traditional Mass, as we have previously published, [as follows]:
Why do we love, preserve and prefer the classic liturgical form of Roman rite, The Traditional Mass?
Would it be only because we are nostalgic or sentimentally attached to past forms of liturgy? This reason alone would not be enough.
Would it be because we deny the power of the Pope to modify and promulgate liturgical laws? This would be against the Pope's supreme power dogma!
Would it be because we just consider the New Mass, or Paul VI's Mass, invalid, heterodox, sinful, sacrilegious, or not Catholic? These statements would be against Church's indefectibility dogma and unity of cult dogma, and they have already received the Teaching Church's anathema. Therefore, it [the Novus Ordo's promulgation] is a universal liturgical law, promulgated by Church's supreme authority 34 years ago and adopted unanimously by the whole Teaching Church.
The real reasons we love, prefer, and preserve the Classical liturgical form of the Roman rite are:
for safety, for protection against abuses,
for the good of whole Church, in contribution for liturgical crisis' reform,
for wealth and solemnity of rites,
for better precision and clarity of rubrics (giving no space to "ambiguities, liberties, creativities, adaptations, reductions, and instrumentalizations," as complains Pope John Paul II in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, nn. 10, 52, 61),
for the sense of sacredness,
more wealth and precision of prayers' formulas, in reverence,
for personal and ritual humility,
for elevation and nobility of ceremonies,
for respect, beauty, good taste, piety, sacred language, tradition, and legitimate right recognized by Church's Supreme Authority.
One of the issues I have never, ever understood was how the banning of the Tridentine rite, and the celebration of a Mass in the vernacular, was supposed to be "ecumenical"
That is a superb question! Cardinal Newman, GK Chesterton, Evelyn Waugh and a whole slew of others probably have the same question.
I simply would prefer having permission for the Tridentine rite to be said occasionally in the vernacular as well as in Latin.
In my opinion it would make the mystical language of that liturgy more accessible to the laity.
Would it be because we deny the power of the Pope to modify and promulgate liturgical laws? This would be against the Pope's supreme power dogma!
Would it be because we just consider the New Mass, or Paul VI's Mass, invalid, heterodox, sinful, sacrilegious, or not Catholic? These statements would be against Church's indefectibility dogma and unity of cult dogma, and they have already received the Teaching Church's anathema.
Therefore, it [the Novus Ordo's promulgation] is a universal liturgical law, promulgated by Church's supreme authority 34 years ago and adopted unanimously by the whole Teaching Church.
*There is a LOT in here that bodes ill for the cult of lefevbre. Fellay is on record, repeatedly, that the Pauline Rite is evil, that the Second Vatican Council is heretical and not binding, that the Jews as a race are condemned, that it was wrongly reported that Castrillon and he had arrived at an agreement re Vatican Two...
IMO, the Pope is WAY too bright and insightful to lift excommuunications against those (despite evidence suggesting otherwise) presumed to have been taught the truth about the Catholic Faith.
The lefevbre cult is rife with heresy and hatred and it has nothing positive to offer the Body of Christ.
One can accept back into the sanctuary the soothing balm of the old liturgy while still barring the sanctuary to the schismatic cult which seduces into its lair Christians who ought know better.
When Christ the Lord was about to celebrate the passover meal with his disciples and institute the sacrifice of his body and blood, he directed them to prepare a large room, arranged for the supper (Lk 22:12). The Church has always regarded this command of Christ as applying to itself when it gives directions about the preparation of the sentiments of the worshipers, the place, rites, and texts for the celebration of the eucharist. The current norms, laid down on the basis of the intent of Vatican Council II, and the new Missal that will be used henceforth in the celebration of Mass by the Church of the Roman Rite, are fresh evidence of the great care, faith, and unchanged love that the Church shows toward the eucharist. They attest as well to its coherent tradition, continuing amid the introduction of some new elements.
A WITNESS TO UNCHANGED FAITH
2. The sacrificial nature of the Mass was solemnly proclaimed by the Council of Trent in agreement with the whole tradition of the Church.  Vatican Council II reaffirmed this teaching in these significant words: "At the Last Supper our Savior instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of his body and blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until he should come again and in this way to entrust to his beloved Bride, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection." 
The Council's teaching is expressed constantly in the formularies of the Mass. This teaching, in the concise words of the Leonine Sacramentary, is that "the work of our redemption is carried out whenever we celebrate the memory of this sacrifice";  it is aptly and accurately brought out in the eucharistic prayers. At the anamnesis or memorial, the priest, addressing God in the name of all the people, offers in thanksgiving the holy and living sacrifice: the Church's offering and the Victim whose death has reconciled us with God.  The priest also prays that the body and blood of Christ may be a sacrifice acceptable to the Father, bringing salvation to the whole world. 
In this new Missal, then, the Church's rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to its constant rule of faith (lex credendi). This rule of faith instructs us that the sacrifice of the cross and its sacramental renewal in the Mass, which Christ instituted at the Last Supper and commanded his apostles to do in his memory, are one and the same, differing only in the manner of offering and that consequently the Mass is at once a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, of reconciliation and expiation.
3. The celebration of Mass also proclaims the sublime mystery of the Lord's real presence under the eucharistic elements, which Vatican Council II  and other documents of the Church's magisterium  have reaffirmed in the same sense and as the same teaching that the Council of Trent had proposed as a matter of faith.  The Mass does this not only by means of the very words of consecration, by which Christ becomes present through transubstantiation, but also by that spirit and expression of reverence and adoration in which the eucharistic liturgy is carried out. For the same reason the Christian people are invited in Holy Week on Holy Thursday and on the solemnity of Corpus Christi to honor this wonderful sacrament in a special way by their adoration.
4. Further, because of the priest's more prominent place and office in the rite, its form sheds light on the ministerial priesthood proper to the presbyter, who offers the sacrifice in the person of Christ and presides over the assembly of a holy people. The meaning of his office is declared and detailed in the preface for the chrism Mass on Thursday of Holy Week, the day celebrating the institution of the priesthood. The preface brings out the passing on of the sacerdotal power through the laying on of hands and, by listing its various offices, describes that power. It is the continuation of the power of Christ, High Priest of the New Testament.
5. In addition, the ministerial priesthood puts into its proper light another reality of which much should be made, namely, the royal priesthood of believers. Through the ministry of presbyters the people's spiritual sacrifice to God is brought to completeness in union with the sacrifice of Christ, our one and only Mediator.  For the celebration of the eucharist is the action of the whole Church; in it all should do only, but all of, those parts that belong to them in virtue of their place within the people of God. In this way greater attention will be given to some aspects of the eucharistic celebration that have sometimes been neglected in the course of time. For these people are the people of God, purchased by Christ's blood, gathered together by the Lord, nourished by his word. They are a people called to offer God the prayers of the entire human family, a people giving thanks in Christ for the mystery of salvation by offering his sacrifice. Finally, they are a people growing together into unity by sharing in Christ's body and blood. These people are holy by their origin, but becoming ever more holy by conscious, active, and fruitful participation in the mystery of the eucharist. 
A WITNESS TO UNBROKEN TRADITION
6. In setting forth its decrees for the revision of the Order of Mass, Vatican Council II directed, among other things, that some rites be restored "to the vigor they had in the tradition of the Fathers";  this is a quotation from the Apostolic Constitution Quo primum of 1570, by which St. Pius V promulgated the Tridentine Missal. The fact that the same words are used in reference to both Roman Missals indicates how both of them, although separated by four centuries, embrace one and the same tradition. And when the more profound elements of this tradition are considered, it becomes clear how remarkably and harmoniously this new Roman Missal improves on the older one.
7. The older Missal belongs to the difficult period of attacks against Catholic teaching on the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the ministerial priesthood, and the real and permanent presence of Christ under the eucharistic elements. St. Pius V was therefore especially concerned with preserving the relatively recent developments in the Church's tradition, then unjustly being assailed, and introduced only very slight changes into the sacred rites. In fact, the Roman Missal of 1570 differs very little from the first printed edition of 1474, which in turn faithfully follows the Missal used at the time of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216). Manuscripts in the Vatican Library provided some verbal emendations, but they seldom allowed research into "ancient and approved authors" to extend beyond the examination of a few liturgical commentaries of the Middle Ages.
8. Today, on the other hand, countless studies of scholars have enriched the "tradition of the Fathers" that the revisers of the Missal under St. Pius V followed. After the Gregorian Sacramentary was first published in 1571, many critical editions of other ancient Roman and Ambrosian sacramentaries appeared. Ancient Spanish and Gallican liturgical books also became available, bringing to light many prayers of profound spirituality that had hitherto been unknown.
Traditions dating back to the first centuries before the formation of the Eastern and Western rites are also better known today because so many liturgical documents have been discovered.
The continuing progress in patristic studies has also illumined eucharistic theology through the teachings of such illustrious saints of Christian antiquity as Irenaeus, Ambrose, Cyril of Jerusalem, and John Chrysostom.
9. The "tradition of the Fathers" does not require merely the preservation of what our immediate predecessors have passed on to us. There must also be profound study and understanding of the Church's entire past and of all the ways in which its single faith has been expressed in the quite diverse human and social forms prevailing in Semitic, Greek, and Latin cultures. This broader view shows us how the Holy Spirit endows the people of God with a marvelous fidelity in preserving the deposit of faith unchanged, even though prayers and rites differ so greatly.
ADAPTATION TO MODERN CONDITIONS
10. As it bears witness to the Roman Church's rule of prayer (lex orandi) and guards the deposit of faith handed down by the later councils, the new Roman Missal in turn marks a major step forward in liturgical tradition. The Fathers of Vatican Council II in reaffirming the dogmatic statements of the Council of Trent were speaking at a far different time in the world's history. They were able therefore to bring forward proposals and measures of a pastoral nature that could not have even been foreseen four centuries ago.
11. The Council of Trent recognized the great catechetical value of the celebration of Mass, but was unable to bring out all its consequences for the actual life of the Church. Many were pressing for permission to use the vernacular in celebrating the eucharistic sacrifice, but the Council, judging the conditions of that age, felt bound to answer such a request with a reaffirmation of the Church's traditional teaching. This teaching is that the eucharistic sacrifice is, first and foremost, the action of Christ himself and therefore the manner in which the faithful take part in the Mass does not affect the efficacy belonging to it. The Council thus stated in firm but measured words: "Although the Mass contains much instruction for the faithful, it did not seem expedient to the Fathers that as a general rule it be celebrated in the vernacular."  The Council accordingly anathematized anyone maintaining that "the rite of the Roman Church, in which part of the canon and the words of consecration are spoken in a low voice, should be condemned or that the Mass must be celebrated only in the vernacular."  Although the Council of Trent on the one hand prohibited the use of the vernacular in the Mass, nevertheless, on the other, it did direct pastors to substitute appropriate catechesis: "Lest Christ's flock go hungry. . .the Council commands pastors and others having the care of souls that either personally or through others they frequently give instructions during Mass, especially on Sundays and holydays, on what is read at Mass and that among their instructions they include some explanation of the mystery of this sacrifice." 
12. Convened in order to adapt the Church to the contemporary requirements of its apostolic task, Vatican Council II examined thoroughly, as had Trent, the pedagogic and pastoral character of the liturgy.  Since no Catholic would now deny the lawfulness and efficacy of a sacred rite celebrated in Latin, the Council was able to acknowledge that "the use of the mother tongue frequently may be of great advantage to the people" and gave permission for its use.  The enthusiasm in response to this decision was so great that, under the leadership of the bishops and the Apostolic See, it has resulted in the permission for all liturgical celebrations in which the faithful participate to be in the vernacular for the sake of a better comprehension of the mystery being celebrated.
13. The use of the vernacular in the liturgy may certainly be considered an important means for presenting more clearly the catechesis on the mystery that is part of the celebration itself. Nevertheless, Vatican Council II also ordered the observance of certain directives, prescribed by the Council of Trent but not obeyed everywhere. Among these are the obligatory homily on Sundays and holydays  and the permission to interpose some commentary during the sacred rites themselves. 
Above all, Vatican Council II strongly endorsed "that more complete form of participation in the Mass by which the faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice."  Thus the Council gave impetus to the fulfillment of the further desire of the Fathers of Trent that for fuller participation in the holy eucharist "the faithful present at each Mass should communicate not only by spiritual desire but also by sacramental communion." 
14. Moved by the same spirit and pastoral concern, Vatican Council II was able to reevaluate the Tridentine norm on communion under both kinds. No one today challenges the doctrinal principles on the completeness of eucharistic communion under the form of bread alone. The Council thus gave permission for the reception of communion under both kinds on some occasions, because this more explicit form of the sacramental sign offers a special means of deepening the understanding of the mystery in which the faithful are taking part. 
15. Thus the Church remains faithful in its responsibility as teacher of truth to guard "things old," that is, the deposit of tradition; at the same time it fulfills another duty, that of examining and prudently bringing forth "things new" (see Mt. 13:52).
Accordingly, a part of the new Roman Missal directs the prayer of the Church expressly to the needs of our times. This is above all true of the ritual Masses and the Masses for various needs and occasions, which happily combine the traditional and the contemporary. Thus many expressions, drawn from the Church's most ancient tradition and become familiar through the many editions of the Roman Missal, have remained unchanged. Other expressions, however, have been adapted to today's needs and circumstances and still others-for example, the prayers for the Church, the laity, the sanctification of human work, the community of all peoples, certain needs proper to our era-are completely new compositions, drawing on the thoughts and even the very language of the recent conciliar documents.
The same awareness of the present state of the world also influenced the use of texts from very ancient tradition. It seemed that this cherished treasure would not be harmed if some phrases were changed so that the style of language would be more in accord with the language of modern theology and would faithfully reflect the actual state of the Church's discipline. Thus there have been changes of some expressions bearing on the evaluation and use of the good things of the earth and of allusions to a particular form of outward penance belonging to another age in the history of the Church.
In short, the liturgical norms of the Council of Trent have been completed and improved in many respects by those of Vatican Council II. This Council has brought to realization the efforts of the last four hundred years to move the faithful closer to the sacred liturgy, especially the efforts of recent times and above all the zeal for the liturgy promoted by St. Pius X and his successors.
*So, for you, a Bishop praying the Normative Mass of the Catholic Church is not wrong. Pretty radical idea there, brother
Where did Pope Paul VI teach the Mass was reformed for "ecumenical" teasons?
THE DECREE ON THE LITURGY
13. There were 16 official documents promulgated by the Second Vatican Council. They covered a wide range of subjects from the liturgy, to ecumenism, to the Church in the modern world. In the short time I have available to me I shall deal with only one - The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium). This is the document that has had the biggest impact on the daily lives of the ordinary Catholics in the pew - people like ourselves. Where to begin?
14. The type of reform aimed for by the Rhine bishops was described by a German-born bishop named Duschak. He wished for an "ecumenical Mass" with the rite, language and gestures to be accommodated to the modern age. The Mass should be said aloud, in the vernacular, and facing the people. He admitted that none of these ideas had come from the people he served but was sure that if they were put into practice they would eventually accept them. What breathtaking arrogance! In a book written before the Council, Archdeacon Pawley, who became an Anglican Observer to the Council, described the changes in the Mass he would like to see; namely, the whole Mass in the vernacular, large numbers of priests concelebrating, the abolition of the prayers at the beginning of Mass, the abolition of the Last Gospel, and Communion under both kinds. Does this not sound familiar?