Interview given by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos in May 2004

Prefatory comment: This interview was seen widely around the internet since its appearance last year — we offer it again as encouragement to those looking for support for the traditional Mass from the Holy See.   —Una Voce America

Written interview granted by His Eminence Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” in Rome on May 5, 2004, Feast of St. Pius V.

Question. Eminence, nearly one year after the celebration in Saint Mary Major of the Mass in the Rite of Saint Pius V, what reactions have you have received from the so called “traditionalist” world, with regard to this event?

Reply. I would say that they have been very positive. Up to the present, I have received hundreds of letters from every part of the world, expressing gratitude and hope for that celebration, at which so many of the faithful were actually present at St. Mary Major.

I believe it was truly providential that during the year of the Rosary, and in the context of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Pontificate of John Paul II, that the faithful attached to the previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin Tradition, had a chance to express their spiritual closeness to the Holy Father through that most important of all actions – the Eucharistic Sacrifice, preceded by the Rosary. This occurred on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, in that Basilica which is the mother of all the Churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary, where the body of St. Pius V rests.

Without denying the validity of the modern day liturgical reform, many of the faithful found themselves deeply moved in expressing their gratitude for this latest gesture of pastoral concern for those who find themselves spiritually identified with the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the Roman Missal of the “Editio Typica” of 1962.

Besides, this celebration has reassured many of the faithful that the venerable Rite of Saint Pius V, enjoys in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, a “right of citizenship”, as I said in my homily. There can be no doubt about the fact that this Rite has not been extinguished. The event at St. Mary Major has, in itself, assisted in clarifying this issue, where any doubt might have previously existed because of certain misinformation.

I would like to make it very clear, that the only reasons behind this celebration were the legitimate requests made to me, as President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, by various groups of the faithful, who wished to express, with this celebration their closeness to the Holy Father, who, we should not forget, has also authorized the private celebration of the Mass of Saint Pius V, in the Hungarian Chapel of the Vatican Basilica, if priests, who have the regular permission to celebrate this Mass, make such a request.

Q. Eminence, in what rite do you normally celebrate the Mass?

R. In the rite which it is celebrated in all the Latin Catholic Church, that is in accordance with the Novus Ordo. Celebrating the Mass in accordance with the Rite approved by Paul VI, I have to say that I found a richness of love and devotion that personally satisfies me. Also, it pleases me that ordinary people can thus participate in the richness of the sacred liturgy and participate in this in their own language.

That does not mean that I do not preserve a great love for the Holy Mass in accordance with the Rite of Saint Pius V, that was the Mass of my priestly ordination and of my first years in the priesthood.

Q. Could you please tell us Your Eminence how the Holy Father regards the movement of the faithful who are attached to that Tradition?

R. I would like to recall that Paul VI himself had already permitted that priests, under particular conditions, could continue to celebrate the Mass in the same way as before the liturgical reform; then in 1984, the Congregation for Divine Worship with the letter “Quattuor abhinc annos”, authorized the celebration of this Rite, under some conditions, and in the end, the same reigning Supreme Pontiff, in 1988, with the Motu Proprio “Ecclesia Dei” has recommended that: “moreover, respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.” (MP “Ecclesia Dei, 2,7,1988, n. 6). It cannot be forgotten that the so called Rite of St. Pius V is the ordinary Rite, granted in January 2002, by decision of His Holiness, to the Personal Apostolic Administration Saint John Mary Vianney of Campos (Brazil). All of that clearly shows that this Rite, by concession of the Holy Father, has full right of citizenship in the Church, without impinging upon the validity of the Rite approved by Paul VI, which is currently in effect in the Latin Church.

I think that the continuous signs of openness that the Holy Father has shown towards the faithful who are attached to this Tradition, gives ample witness of his affection for this portion of the People of God, which can neither be forgotten nor ignored. These faithful people, in full communion with the Apostolic See, strive in the midst of many difficulties to keep alive the fervor of the Catholic Faith and true devotion to it, expressed by their particular attachment to the liturgical and devotional forms of that ancient Tradition, with which they are mainly identified.

Indeed, it is my impression that those who are attached to the old Rite are involved in expressing a legitimate religious, liturgical and spiritual sentiment that is particularly rooted in the ancient Tradition and therefore, when this is lived in full communion with the Church, represents something that is truly an enrichment.

I don’t like, indeed, those views that would like to reduce the traditionalist “phenomenon” to only the celebration of the ancient rite, as if it were an stubborn and nostalgic attachment to the past. That does not correspond to the reality that it is lived within this vast group of faithful. In reality, what we frequently find is a Christian view of the life of faith and of devotion – shared by so many catholic families that frequently are enriched by many children – that has special characteristics, and we can mention as examples: a strong sense of belonging to the Mystical Body of Christ, a desire to maintain strong links with the past – that wishes to be seen, not in contrast with the present but in a line of continuity with the Church – to preserve the principal teachings of the faith, a profound desire for spirituality and the sacred, etc… The love for the Lord and for the Church, finds within the particular Christian views of these faithful its highest expression through their attachment to the ancient liturgical and devotional forms, that have accompanied the Church through the centuries of her history.

It is interesting besides, to note, that within this reality, we can find many young people, born after II Vatican Ecumenical Council. They show, I could say, a “sympathy of the heart” for a form of celebration and of catechesis, that in harmony with their “feeling”, gives ample space to a climate of the sacred and a spirituality, that is attractive even to the youth of today, that certainly cannot be defined as “nostalgic” or a leftover from the past. I would like to remember also that this venerable Rite has formed many saints through the centuries and has shown the face of the Church to the world. That Church still today recognizes the merits of that Rite, as the indult Ecclesia Dei of John Paul II proves.

In the Church there is a great variety of gifts placed at the service of different levels of consciousness and sensitivity, each with their own specific traits, that find a place within the abundant richness of Catholicity. It cannot be denied that between this variety of gifts and sensitivities we have also the faithful called “traditionalists”, that they should not be seen as “second class faithful”, but should be protected in their right to be able to express their faith and piety in accordance with their particular spirituality, that the Holy Father recognizes as totally legitimate. So it is not the case to oppose, as if they were in some ways antagonists, two different sensitivities: the one called “traditionalist” and one so called “modern”; it is instead the case of the freedom to proclaim the same Catholic Faith, with different emphasis and expressions that are both legitimate, in the full and reciprocal fraternal respect.

Q. Eminence, the establishment of the Apostolic Administration Saint John Mary Vianney of Campos in Brazil, seems to be a successful attempt to bring together those diverse sensitivities within the Church?

R. Certainly! First of all we have to see the action of Divine Providence: who would ever have imagined, two years before the Great Jubilee, that from an irregular situation like that of Campos, would have come a sign of hope for the whole traditionalist world and yet another concrete proof, among so many others, that different degrees of awareness can coexist within the one Church of Christ.

Indeed, that situation was somewhat complicated: after the resignation of Bishop Castro Mayer as Bishop of the Diocese of Campos, gradually the “Saint John Mary Vianney Association” began to coalesce with the involvement of priests, forms of religious life and a community of the faithful, becoming like a parallel structure to the diocese. Obviously it was a grave situation. Furthermore, taking into account that the Episcopal ordination of Mons. Rangel, who presided over this group, had occurred through the intervention of the excommunicated Bishops of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, in such a way that he had also incurred an automatic excommunication (“latae sententiae”). Thank God the group of Campos has come out of a situation which could have brought about a state of formal schism.

So, where there had been a bishop, priests and a group of independent faithful, the same Mons. Rangel and his priests, by an act of humility and repentance, responding to the invitation of the Holy Father, now felt an obligation in conscience to reenter into full communion with the Church, recognizing that the conditions of what they had considered as a so called “state of necessity” no longer existed. Thus a completely new situation was brought into being. It is worthwhile to remember the words of Our Lord, “Thus, I make all things new”.

I would like to underline that this has been possible “due to an act of humility and of repentance” of the Priestly Association of “St. John Marie Vianney”, that recognized that it could not carry on the battle in favor of tradition without an affective and effective link with the Vicar of Christ and the Apostolic See.

History, indeed, much more than any other teacher, shows us that no one has borne fruit in the Church without the blessing of the Holy Father.

We need to walk with Peter to avoid losing the right path. Bishop Licinio Rangel, with all the Campos community, after the reconciliation, effected an historical agreement with the Apostolic See, and now is under the light of the Sun, while before, that community, I could say, was under the shadow of an irregular situation, that made both them, and us, suffer.

Now we no longer have “them” on one side, and “us” on the other: we have full unity. Indeed, the climate of collaboration established between the Apostolic Administration, Saint John Marie Vianney ,and the local diocese, not only in Campos, but also among the other Dioceses of Brazil, is truly positive. There are bishops that request the Apostolic Administrator to send his priests to assist in their dioceses those faithful who are pertain to the ancient Tradition. In one Diocese, moreover, these priests have been asked to hear confessions in the local Cathedral.

The current Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Fernando Rifan, is an tireless builder of bridges. He demonstrates, with his personal witness, that this collaboration with the local episcopates is really possible, without sacrificing at all that identity that the Holy Father has recognized as legitimate for those Catholics attached to the previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin Tradition. The fact that the Holy Father granted to this Apostolic Administration the Rite of St. Pius V as its ordinary Rite, shows once more that His Holiness and the Apostolic See have responded with generosity to the legitimate request of the priests and the faithful of Campos.

Q. Allow me, Eminence a question that perhapst is indiscreet. After the establishment of the Apostolic Administration of Campos, other traditionalists have begun to hope that what was granted to the Brazilians will, in some way be granted to the traditionalists all over the world. What can you say to us, about this?

R. Before anything else we have to distinguish the situation of Campos, which is limited to a specific territory, from the situation in which the other faithful, who enjoy the “Ecclesia Dei” indult and live all over the world, find themselves in. The solution found for Campos is a consequence of specific local conditions.

I can say that the Holy Father, with the Ecclesia Dei indult and the establishment of the Pontifical Commission that has that name, already has demonstrated his wish to protect the legitimate aspirations of the faithful attached to the ancient liturgy, and the Commission continues to work in this direction. After more than fifteen years of the Motu Proprio – and also taking into consideration the not few difficulties that have arisen between those faithful and various Bishops who remain perplexed or who are rather hesitant to grant the necessary permissions – the idea is constantly growing that it has become necessary to provide for the concession of the indult in a broader fashion that would correspond more with the reality of the situation. It is thought that the times are mature for a new and clearer form of juridical guarantee of that right, which has been already recognized by the Holy Father with the 1988 Indult. The Cardinals and Bishop members of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, have attentively studied the matter, seeking the best solutions possible with a view to presenting these to the appropriate authorities.

All of these will be obviously evaluated in the light of that prudence and wisdom that should always mark the actions of the highest authority of the Church.

I can say from my part that I never lose hope; I don’t like at all to surrender, because I am convinced that patience, as St. Therese of Avila used to say, achieves everything!

Q. Without willing to abuse your time and your patience, forgive me for a ‘last question: are there hopes of reconciliation with the Fraternity of Saint Pius X?

R. I strongly cherish this hope it in my heart, sharing it with the Vicar of Christ, who waits with open arms for the Fraternity of Saint Pius X. I do not deny that I have a certain perplexity in the face of the hesitations enunciated regarding the return to full communion by the Superiors of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, and as were recently expressed during the well publicized press conference in Rome of Mons. Bernard Fellay.

Despite all those signs of hesitation, I believe in the words that Mons. Fellay himself repeated in that press conference that took place in Rome on February 2nd, that he does not wish to break the dialog with Rome.

For this reason I wish that this dialogue would arrive at the desired stage of the full regularization of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X and that we could build together, in the Church, that desired unity which Christ has willed, while at the same time always respecting the legitimate diversities, which can be seen not as antagonistic, but as complementary.

In conscience I have to say, indeed, that the Holy Father and his closest collaborators have done everything that it is possible, and they continue to do so, to make the Authorities of the “Fraternity of S. Pius X” understand the deep conviction, that this is the favorable time for the desired return, the authentic “Kairós” (time) of God.

If the Church were not established on the Rock of the Primacy of Peter, then the different sensitivities would not be able to find their guarantee and their center of gravity of unity in the Vicar of Christ, those differences would unavoidably become divisive counter positions, but thanks to the will of Christ, the Church, even in the midst of the storm, is always sustained by the Holy Sprit and its helm has been entrusted to Peter, in such a way that the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.

Posted 5 July 2005