Rome Meeting of the International Federation of Una Voce

This report was filed by William Basile as an attendee of the Rome meeting of the Una Voce International Conference

On the weekend of October 7th this year, I was grateful to represent Una Voce America at the FIUV (Una Voce International Federation) General Assembly in Rome.

The first impression that perhaps everyone had upon meeting was a sense of loss with the absense of Michael Davies and Eric de Saventhem who both died over the past year. While we have some excellent leaders in FIUV, it will be nearly impossible to compensate for the loss of these two. Dr. De Saventhem alone served for over 25 years as president and his leadership was always felt in the conferences. So we started by remembered prayers for the repose of the souls of our recently departed brethren. Count Neri Capponi and Helmut Ruckreigel were the senior members at the event and we benefited from their continued presence and sage advice during the proceedings. The formal events on Saturday progressed well, with some spirited discussion along the way, with regards to the election of the President and Council members. By the time the day had ended, the new FIUV President was announced: Fra Frederick Crichton-Stuart of Una Voce Scotland. After the meeting was over, Fra Frederick engaged in an interesting discussion and he mentioned especially that he appreciated learning more the situation in the U.S. and how Una Voce America provides a lot of authority to the local chapters, in contrast with other international groups. Fra Frederick recognized that UVA has perhaps the most dynamic worldwide organization in terms of approved Masses and member involvement (although the sheer size of our country is a major factor) and that UV America’s approach has seen some significant results and perhaps other associations could benefit from our concepts of teamwork and committee membership.

TThe Sunday program brought some informative talks from priests of the Institute of Christ the King and the Fraternity of St. Peter. Fr. Giles Wach of the Institute of Christ the King gave an informative view of the work of the Institute and its growth over the past years. He made an interesting aside about what he has discovered about American Catholics that he has encountered, and he was surprised to see the great devotion and enthusiasm from the faithful in various locations, as well as the friendly cooperation of several bishops. Many delegates seemed interested in this, and perhaps that provided some insights about the good quality of many of our American Catholics — and the strong contribution we have been blessed to make to the Church.

Fr. Bisig then followed with an interesting report on the continued growth of the Fraternity of St. Peter around the world. The seminary programs in Europe and America are both growing, and more bishops are welcoming Fraternity priests.

Msgr. Perl of the Ecclesia Dei Commission then spoke to our group and also offered some encouragement as well as some caution about expecting a timeline for new legislation from Rome. It was clear that Msgr. Perl knew that changes (whether the PAA or a Universal Indult) were at least in serious discussion in Rome, and very likely to be implemented (one or the other) within a framework of time, but the PAA (Personal Apostolic Administration) carries significant problems, not the least of which are the many concordats given between the Holy See and various European countries which would have to be amended or entirely re-written before a PAA could be established anywhere there. So, while we’ve heard the message of “wait and be patient” for many years already, most delegates interpreted Msgr. Perl’s comments as containing a promise of significant steps forward for the traditional Mass in the near future.

Following Msgr. Perl’s talk there were some excellent talks by our Hungarian delegate and our newest association in Belorussia. In the former case, we heard about some good strides taken with the hierarchy and some outstanding musical and language initiatives among the faithful in Hungary. The delegate from Belorussia made a direct appeal to the FSSP or Institute to send priests because there is a bishop who is suffering from so few clergy that he is willing to take traditional Mass priests just to meet basic needs in the diocese. Fr. Bisig immediately offered his support and we believe something very good will emerge from that.

We also had the pleasure of hearing from the delegate of the newly created Russian association and he’s a very young man (as were the leaders of the other new associations) and we owed the emergence of these Central European groups to Ralf Seibenbürger’s work in that part of the world, (for which we acknowledged Ralf). The situation for Catholics in Russia and other ex-communist countries is radically different than what we have in the West and the struggles that traditional Catholics face there are based on perhaps a more primary level of Christian survival and hope than where Catholicism is more widespread and taken for granted. It’s important for UVA to keep a good awareness of others in far reaching countries also (although it is often difficult to stay in touch with them or reach them) and I offered our prayers and support as much as we are able.

After most of the delegates left, I was able to stay an extra day on Monday and I had a profitable meeting privately with Msgr. Calkins of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Msgr. Calkins has a good understanding of the pressures and difficulties that American Catholic traditionalists can face from various sides, and he offered some suggestions for use by the UVA Board on governance matters, and confirmed his help on our current efforts in organizational restructuring — as he has already contributed some advice in that matter prior to this meeting.

On the question of “when can we expect … whatever”, Msgr. Calkins didn’t know about when upcoming legislation could be expected from the Holy See, but he echoed Msgr. Perl’s confidence that something of benefit to the traditional Mass would be forthcoming (the PAA or Universal Indult). We discussed also the dangers of schismatic developments that can occur within our ranks, as well as varieties of sedevacantism which have given some lack of credibility to those trying to prove that the movement for the traditional Mass will actually draw people closer to the Church.

Msgr. Calkins mentioned that his office continues to get a steady stream of mail from around the world, but that most of the requests and complaints are not matters that fall to his office to take action with, given the limitations of the current structure of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. At the end of the weekend for the General Assembly this year, it was clear that FIUV was well-positioned to continue offering its unique service in support of the faithful in the Church for future generations.