July 23, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Don Davide Pagliarani, the General Superior of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) – whose priests exclusively celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass – has published today a response to Pope Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis Custodes.
In his letter, Father Pagliarani makes it clear that there are, indeed, two different Masses – the Traditional Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass – representing two different faiths. He says that this motu proprio has now shown that the concept of the “hermeneutics of continuity” – which insists that the post-conciliar Church in her liturgy, doctrine, and morals, essentially is in continuity with the Church from before the Second Vatican Council – “is over.” He writes:
The motu proprio Traditionis custodes and the letter that accompanied it have caused a profound upheaval in the so-called traditionalist movement. We can point out, quite logically, that the era of the hermeneutics of continuity, with its equivocations, illusions and impossible efforts, is radically over – swept aside with a wave of a sleeve.
Since the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – the center of the Christian life – represents Calvary, the struggle between Our Lord and Satan, says Father Pagliarani, the Mass itself is a sign of contradiction and has to be. This is the essence of the Traditional Mass, or Tridentine Mass. For this priest, the Tridentine Mass “expresses and conveys a conception of Christian life – and consequently, a conception of the Catholic Church – that is absolutely incompatible with the ecclesiology that emerged from the Second Vatican Council.”
Therewith, Father Pagliarani says that Pope Francis is right when he points out that many Catholics who adhere to the Tridentine Mass are critical of Vatican II, which took place from 1962 to 1965 and which brought forth several doctrinal and liturgical changes in the life of the Church. This is a point that others in this current debate variously try to deny.
“The problem is not simply liturgical, aesthetic or purely technical,” Don Pagliarani goes on to say. “The problem is simultaneously doctrinal, moral, spiritual, ecclesiological and liturgical. In a nutshell, it is a problem that affects all aspects of the Church’s life, without exception. It is a question of faith.”
So the Superior General of the SSPX says that the question of the Tridentine Mass affects the entire life of the Church. And this Mass and its faith is “incompatible with the ecclesiology that emerged from the Second Vatican Council.”
Father Pagliarani then explains the differences between the Novus Ordo Mass as it was promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 and the Mass as it had been pruned and restored by Pope Pius V during the Council of Trent – hence the name Tridentine Mass. “On one side is the Mass of All Times,” he writes. It stands for a “Church that defies the world and is certain of victory, for its battle is nothing less that the continuation of the battle that Our Blessed Lord waged to destroy sin and to destroy the kingdom of Satan.” The traditional Mass, therefore, has “a fundamentally militant conception of Christian life” containing two elements: “a spirit of sacrifice and an unwavering supernatural hope.”
The new Mass, however, which emerged from the new faith that came out of the Second Vatican Council and that downplays the gravity of sin, trying to embrace the world, has a completely different characteristic. Says the Superior General:
On the other side stands the Mass of Paul VI. It is an authentic expression of a Church that wants to live in harmony with the world and that lends an ear to the world’s demands. It represents a Church that, in the final analysis, no longer needs to fight against the world because it no longer has anything to reproach the world. Here is a Church that no longer has anything to teach the world because it listens to the powers of the world.
Such an understanding of the Church means that it “no longer needs the Sacrifice of Our Blessed Lord because, having lost the notion of sin, it no longer has anything for which to atone,” according to Pagliarani.
On could add that this explains the characteristic of the New Mass that resembles more of a meeting, of a “supper” or “meal” rather than of a sacrifice, with its sober atmosphere and gravity.
Don Pagliarani explains here that the new understanding of the Church is that she wants to help humanistic endeavors on earth, not keeping her eyes on heaven and the mission to lead as many souls as possible to heaven, establishing the Kingship of Christ on earth. He states about the New Mass and the new understanding of the Church:
Here is a Church that no longer has the mission of restoring the universal kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, because it wants to make its contribution to the creation on this earth of a better world that is freer, more egalitarian and more eco-responsible – and all this with purely human means. This humanist mission that the men of the Church have given themselves must necessarily be matched by a liturgy that is equally humanist and emptied of any notion of sacredness.
Thereby confirming Pope Francis’s claim that there is a conflict between the Novus Ordo Mass and the Tridentine Mass and its ecclesiologies, Father Pagliarani says that there has been a “battle” waged over the last 50 years, and this battle is not just “a war between two rites.”
Pope Francis, in his letter to the bishops concerning his new motu proprio regrets that “the instrumental use of Missale Romanum of 1962 is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church.’”
Indeed, according to Pagliarani, it is a war between “two different and opposing conceptions of the Catholic Church and of Christian life,” and these conceptions are “incompatible with each other.” The priest goes on to say: “In paraphrasing Saint Augustin, one could say that the two Masses have built two cities: the Mass of All Times has built a Christian city; the New Mass seeks to build a humanist and secular city.”
Since God always allows things to bring out a greater good, Don Pagliarani sees that this “shock” of July 16 – the publication of Pope Francis’s motu proprio – can renew in us the awareness of what a gift we have in the traditional Latin Mass. We should consider it a great gift and be willing to suffer for it:
This Mass – our Mass – must really be for us like the pearl of great price in the Gospel, for which we are ready to renounce everything, for which we are ready to sell everything. He who is not prepared to shed his blood for this Mass is not worthy to celebrate it! He who is not prepared to give up everything to protect it is not worthy to attend it!
Don Pagliarani calls upon us to be strong and ready to be courageous. Our response “must be profound and more far-reaching than all those feeble and sometimes hopeless commentaries.” It is here that all those souls who have in the recent years found access to the Mass of All Ages and its better means for sanctification are called to make a decision of a “well-formed Catholic conscience” whether or not they will allow this Mass to be taken away from them.
They will have to make “an important choice that will affect their faith,” because the Holy Mass is the “supreme expression of a doctrinal and moral universe,” explains the Italian priest. It is about “choosing the Catholic faith in its entirety and through it, choosing Our Lord Jesus Christ, with His Cross, His Sacrifice and His universal kingship … imitating the Crucified One and of following Him to the end, by a complete, rigorous and coherent fidelity.”
In the end, Father Pagliarani assures all the faithful that the SSPX will do all it can to help faithful who are now in distress, wishing to extend a “warm helping hand” to them.
“We have the duty,” he writes, “to offer them the certitude that the Tridentine Mass can never disappear from the face of the earth.”
In a recent interview just before the new motu proprio, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, said that it would be “violation” and an “abuse of power” should the traditional Mass be abolished. He saw the possibility that some priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) – which is under the direct authority of Rome – might well go to the SSPX should they be forbidden to celebrate this liturgy. Should the ban of the Traditional Mass come, he continued, priests “can continue to celebrate this Mass because it is the Mass of the entire Church and the faithful have a right [to] what's holy.” He also said that it is “licit” to go to Masses of the Society of St. Pius X. In case the traditional Mass were to be abolished, he went on to say, “if the other priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter and others will be forced to concelebrate the New Mass, I think that there will be priests who will join the Society of Saint Pius X because they have, in this case, some more independence to keep the tradition of the Church.”
As Bishop Schneider reminded us, though, the SSPX is not yet fully regularized due to their consecration of four bishops without papal permission in 1988. But they have already received from Rome the faculty to hear Confessions and to witness marriages, thus coming closer to a regularized situation. However, since they have “more independence” (Schneider) from Rome, they would certainly not stop offering the Traditional Latin Mass, should the Pope order them to do so.
Only recently, Father James Altman, in two different interviews (one with The Rundown), discussed the possibility that the SSPX might be the only place for him to receive faculties, since he has been suspended and it is not clear whether his appeal will have success. These words of his were at this stage merely theoretical, and he did not say he would do this step, but it shows that he, too, considers the SSPX as being a serious option. He stated in one of the interviews that he believes it is “valid” for Catholics to go to SSPX Masses.
On July 16, Pope Francis issued his motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, in which he declared that, for the sake of “unity,” the Traditional Latin Mass – or the “Extraordinary form of the Roman rite,” as Pope Benedict XVI had termed it – is essentially to be abolished. He declared that the Novus Ordo Mass is to be the “unique expression” of the Roman rite and that in the end, all traditionally-minded Catholics should be moved to accept the Latin canon of that Novus Ordo Mass, thus attempting to abolish the traditional Mass – as it had been set by the Council of Trent in the 16th century. In his letter to the bishops concerning this motu proprio, Francis spoke of the “need to return in due time to the Roman Rite promulgated by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II.”
As Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller wrote about this new motu proprio, “the clear intent is to condemn the Extraordinary Form to extinction.”
The Italian Professor Massimo Viglione, in an essay endorsed by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, however, pointed out that this Mass can never be abrogated. He wrote:
The Lex Orandi comprises all twenty centuries of the history of the Church, and there is no man or group of men in the world who can change this twenty-century-old deposit. There is no pope, council, or episcopate that can change the Gospel, the Depositum Fidei, or the universal Magisterium of the Church. Nor can the Liturgy of all time be changed.
For Viglione, this attack on the Traditional Mass is an attempt to extinguish that in the Church that is still opposed to the New World Order. The “true goal of this multi-decade war against the Sacred Catholic Liturgy,” he stated, “which then is the true goal of the creation of the New Rite ex nihilo…, is the dissolution of the Catholic Liturgy in itself, of every form of the Holy Sacrifice, of doctrine itself, of the Church herself in the great globalist current of the universal religion of the New World Order.”
Part of this Catholic liturgy are concepts such as “the Most Holy Trinity, the Cross, original sin, Good and Evil understood in the Christian and traditional sense, the Incarnation, the Resurrection and thus the Redemption, the Marian privileges and the very figure of the Mother of God who is the Immaculate Conception, the Eucharist and the Sacraments, Christian morality with its Ten Commandments and the Doctrine of the Universal Magisterium (defense of life, of the family, of rightly ordered sexuality in all its forms, with all the consequent condemnations of today’s follies) – all of this must disappear into the universal and monist cult of the future.”
For Professor Viglione – who has just edited a book against the abortion-tainted coronavirus vaccine, with Archbishop Viganò and LifeSite’s John-Henry Westen contributing to it – the question of obedience is depending upon the end of it. One can also be obedient to something that is evil.
“Obedience – and this is an error that finds its deepest roots even in the pre-conciliar Church, it must be said – is not an end. It is a means of sanctification,” he explained. Obedience, therefore “is not an absolute value, but rather an instrumental one. It is a positive value, very positive, if it is ordered towards God. But if one obeys Satan, or his servants, or error, or apostasy, then obedience is no longer a good, but rather a deliberate participation in evil.” In conclusion, this Italian professor wrote:
We must be “pleasing not to men, but to God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thess 2:4). Exactly! Therefore, whoever obeys men while being aware of facilitating evil and obstructing the Good, whoever they may be – including the ecclesiastical hierarchy, including the pope – in reality becomes an accomplice of evil, of lies, and of error.
Archbishop Viganò endorsed this statement by Viglione, calling it “great and powerful” and saying that it “constitutes one of the most lucid and profound comments on the ominous Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes.”
“I intend to offer it to the reading and reflection of all the faithful, Catholics and also non-Catholics, so that each one can draw from it prophetic clarity and apostolic courage in the very hard war that we are all called to face, a war whose inevitable outcome will be the triumph of the Bride of Christ over the unleashing of the infernal powers,” the Italian prelate explained.
It might very well be that these voices presented in this report – Don Davide Pagliarani, and then Archbishop Viganò, and Professor Viglione – are the most honest ones who do not shy away from a conflict with Rome. Unlike many other commentators who are insisting – and perhaps pretending, because most traditional Catholics know that something went wrong at and after Vatican II – that they are faithful to the post-conciliar Church, the voices presented in this report speak the truth plainly and prepare us to face the coming battle with strength, conviction, and courage. Even Pope Francis might have more respect for these men than for those who try to square the circle, pretending something that they in truth, in their hearts, do not believe.