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DIJON, France, June 30, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — In a new development regarding the expulsion of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) from its apostolate in Dijon, in the east of France, Archbishop Roland Minnerath agreed to speak in-person to several hundred faithful who had organized a peaceful demonstration in front of his archiepiscopal palace on Saturday morning. 

Minnerath spent about half an hour giving his reasons for the move and answering questions – a minority of them aggressive – from the crowd. The main theme of his speech was “concelebration.” The two priests of the FSSP in Dijon had refused to concelebrate a Novus Ordo liturgy. Minnerath made clear that it was the one and only point of friction and that if the priests would accept to concelebrate, then they or other members of the FSSP will be welcome to stay.

After addressing the faithful, Minnerath gave the group a blessing using the traditional Latin formula of benediction in response to their request for his blessing.

The case of the Dijon diocese has an impact that appears to go far beyond the diocese’s boundaries. Archbishop Minnerath clearly stated that the decision to remove the FSSP was related to the revision by Pope Francis of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum that will be made public “in a few days or weeks.” “The Pope will speak. I know what he will say,” he told the shocked assembly.

The intention to place restrictions on the right to celebrate the traditional or “extraordinary form” of the Roman rite was leaked several weeks ago after Pope Francis told the Italian Bishops’ Conference at the opening of their General Assembly that he had reached a third draft of the revision of Summorum Pontificum. According to the traditional Catholic website “Messa in Latino,” the Pope quipped about the “rigidity” of seminarians attracted to the ancient rite of the Latin Church and told the bishops about a young priest learning Latin in order to celebrate it, who would do better to learn “Spanish or Vietnamese” in order to speak the language of many people present in his diocese.

Pope Francis is also supposed to have said that Benedict XVI’s aim in liberalizing the Vetus Ordo was to “encounter only the followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.” This does not stand up to scrutiny of Summorum Pontificum itself and the accompanying letter of Pope Benedict in which the “right to exist” (or more precisely, the “right of citizenship”) of the traditional Mass was very clearly affirmed in 2007, notwithstanding previous vexations and outlawing of the Tridentine Mass since 1969.

Knowledgeable observers of the Vatican have said that the restrictions would hit diocesan priests who would in the future need to obtain permission from their bishop in order to celebrate the Vetus Ordo, which is at present (in theory at least) accessible to all. Ecclesia Dei priests would continue to proceed as before. Archbishop Minnerath’s statement gives quite a clear indication that the revision of Summorum Pontificum is also aimed at placing new conditions on the traditional fraternities and institutes who may be required commit to concelebrate in the new rite in dioceses where they are accepted by local bishops.

Unverified rumors have suggested that the seminaries and places of priestly formation of these congregations and institutes will be required to teach the celebration of the Novus Ordo together with that of the Tridentine Mass.

A very reliable source in Rome told LifeSiteNews that four Cardinals who are members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is in charge of supervising the Ecclesia Dei Institutes, have encouraged and even pressed Pope Francis in this direction: Marc Ouellet, Pietro Parolin, Beniamino Stella and Giuseppe Versaldi.

Roland Minnerath is also a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. While only a few months away from his 75th birthday, when he will place his resignation letter in the hands of Pope Francis, he has added weight to the fears of traditionally-minded Catholics by so outspokenly making concelebration in the New Rite an absolute prerequisite for obtaining an apostolate in his archdiocese. 

Facing a crowd composed mostly of young people, families with children, and only a handful of elderly faithful, Minnerath insisted that he was “not taking the priests away” from the Basilica of Saint-Bernard, where the FSSP has been present for 23 years: “I am only asking them to show their communion with us,” he said.

For him; “concelebration” is a necessary demonstration of such communion.

“I only asked for this as a sign of communion of priests with other priests and with their bishop. These are things that cannot be discussed, it is the nature of the Church,” he said.

This is obviously not true, since frequent concelebration, even for the Maundy Thursday Chrism Mass, is a post-Vatican II innovation; before that, in the many centuries when concelebration was a rare exception, “communion” existed all the same. Also, Oriental Churches in communion with Rome do not have recourse to concelebration with Latin rite priests in order to prove their union with the Holy See.

Hearing remarks of this nature from the crowd, as well as remarks about canon law, Minnerath asked, “Have you studied theology of any kind? Do you know more about this than I do? So please, do stop … Canon law, I know what that is. If you want to use petty arguments, if you want to continue to be led by the discourse of the fraternity that has a problem … ” 

“But we want the good Lord!” interjected a demonstrator.

Minnerath responded: “I don’t see any problem in their attitude towards us if they come to concelebrate from time to time, and show their unity with the Catholic Church. You say that there are two rites, but there is unity: unity is in the person of the priest, but he cannot exclude another priest. Look, I don't know how you have been indoctrinated … ”

At the word “indoctrinated,” the crowd hissed angrily, and one “parishioner” shouted: “You can’t exclude your own sheep!”

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A senior Church prelate is strongly opposing a new Vatican proposal to ban private Masses and restrict traditional rite Masses at the world's premier church, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Cardinal Raymond Burke said that the new directions, issued by Pope Francis’ Secretariat of State, should be "rescinded" since they are "contrary to" and in "direct violation of" universal Church law.

Therefore, we ask you to SIGN and SHARE this petition, which is directed to Pope Francis and the current and just retired Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica (Cardinals Mauro Gambetti and Angelo Comastri, respectively), and which asks them to rescind the new directive banning private Masses and restricting traditional rite Masses at St. Peter's.

On March 12th, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State circulated a note with details of new dispositions restricting all “individual” Masses in Saint Peter’s, with special, even more restrictive measures for the traditional rite.

The note, which was unsigned, stated among other things that "individual celebrations are suppressed."

In response, Cardinal Burke said the new rules cause the faithful, and above all, priests, the "deepest concerns."

In particular, he addresses the celebration of private or "individual" Masses at the Basilica, something that the new document appears to target, writing:

The document imposes concelebration upon priests who wish to offer the Holy Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, which is contrary to universal Church law and which unjustly conditions the primary duty of the individual priest to offer the Holy Mass daily for the salvation of the world (can. 902).

In what church more than in the Basilica of Saint Peter would a priest desire to offer the Holy Mass, which is the most perfect and fullest way in which he carries out his priestly mission? If an individual priest wishes to offer the Holy Mass in the Basilica, once the directives in question are in force, he will be constrained to concelebrate, in violation of his freedom to offer the Holy Mass individually.

Quoting from the Council of Trent, Burke then emphasized the fact that the whole Church benefits spiritually from every Mass that is said, whether with people attending or without, stating:

The holy council would certainly like the faithful present at every Mass to communicate in it not only by spiritual devotion but also by sacramental reception of the Eucharist, so that the fruits of this most holy sacrifice could be theirs more fully.

But, if this does not always happen, the council does not for that reason condemn as private and illicit Masses (can. 8) in which only the priest communicates. Rather, it approves and commends them, for they too should be considered truly communal Masses, partly because the people communicate spiritually in them and partly because they are celebrated by a public minister of the Church, not for his own good alone, but for all the faithful who belong to the body of Christ’ (Session XXII, Chapter 6).

Please SIGN now and support the call to Pope Francis and the current and just retired Archpriest of St. Peter's to rescind the new directives which would severely restrict priests from offering private and traditional rite Holy Masses at St. Peter's Basilica.


Cardinal Burke: Vatican’s ban on private Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica should be ‘rescinded’ -

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Once again, Minnerath rejected the objection: “I tell you that things have become clearer: I have made a final proposal to the FSSP. Either they concelebrate for (inaudible) and they stay, or other priests, or they refuse and leave. Is that simple enough?” 

Another demonstrator said, “When half the churches in the diocese are empty, it is a scandal to fire two priests!”

Minnerath replied, “That has nothing to do with it. What does it matter to you that these priests show their unity with us? What difference does it make? None at all! Listen, my friends, I am the guarantor of the Catholic Church and of unity in this diocese. And so, I do my job. I have no interest in cultivating opposition.”

At this point, the main spokesman of the demonstration asked the Archbishop to consider Canon law, which states, “Unless the benefit of Christ’s faithful requires or suggests otherwise, priests may concelebrate the Eucharist; they are, however, fully entitled to celebrate the Eucharist individually, but not while a celebration is taking place in the same church or oratory.”

The spokesman recalled that can. 902 affirms the freedom not to concelebrate. “Ask them for other signs of union! Otherwise, it’s a pretext for kicking us out and bringing us back to a kind of 1970s Dhimmi status,” he said. “Look, Monseigneur, the 1970s are over, the people who are here come from all walks of life. We stayed in the Church voluntarily, and since then we have been considered as somewhat separate Christians … In our diocese we are tolerated. This situation is intolerable. Ours is a living community, it has catechumens, there are 40 children, there are priests to serve you … You want to impose this on them, you want to corner them with this, but you don’t realize that you are bringing back a war. What you are doing is loathsome. Ask them something else.”

Minnerath did not answer the arguments but said, “You are wrong to make a big theological and canonical speech. Do you know the entire statute of the FSSP? … Nobody is obliged to concelebrate. But it is not forbidden to anyone. If one uses the differences of rite to make a separate community that does not recognize … ” 

Here the bishop was interrupted by protests and booing, and he proclaimed, “I am the unity!” 

It was when an older man roughly told the Bishop that he would soon be “in a pine box” and would have to “answer for his action,” Minnerath revealed, “It is not I who is asking for it. You will have a new Motu Proprio from the Pope in a few days or weeks, which will put things in order. I am not someone who asks for extraordinary things. You would have done better to demonstrate before your priests and ask them: Why are you stuck on such a little thing?”

“Blackmail, Monseigneur,” cried a demonstrator.

“Think about it … Concelebration is the sign of the rest, you understand?” answered the bishop.

Other demonstrators asked Minnerath to celebrate the traditional rite as a sign of unity. “I have done it now and again,” he responded. “I have nothing against the Old Rite. I also celebrate in the other one. You see: priests should not exclude the other rite. You understand that this is a problem that concerns the structure of the Church? And I am here to remind you,” he said, before adding, “the Pope will speak … I know what he will say.” 

The dialogue continued in the same vein until one of the faithful recalled that during last year’s lockdown, it was thanks to the traditional institutes and lay associations, including the FSSP, that took the French State to court over the ban of public Masses, that the bishop was “able to celebrate the Chrism Mass this year.” 

“What stronger sign of sacramental union is there than that?” the layman asked.

There was no answer.

Another remarked: “Catechetical groups are empty in most of the parishes of Dijon!”

“Do you have another method to attract young people?” asked Minnerath. 

“The Fraternity of Saint Peter!” shouted the crowd.

After several more exchanges, the organizer of the demonstration told the bishop, “You are leaving to your successor an abscess, a division in your diocese. We have a ritual specificity and a liturgical specificity and now we have a specificity in the Church. You receive the Orientals … who do not concelebrate. Let your successor decide … You are leaving, but we stay.”

Although all know that Bishop Minnerath has already prepared his retirement that will take place in a few months, he answered, “It’s very tactless of you to throw me out. I have not yet left. The Oriental Christians, they have another rite, there is no concelebration. But there are two forms of the unique Latin rite, the Roman rite. We are in the same rite.”

This is indeed the choice made by Benedict XVI, who presented the TLM and the Novus Ordo as two “forms” of one and the same rite, despite the enormous differences between the Tridentine Mass and the multiple and varied interpretations of the Mass of Paul VI as it is effectively celebrated.

Bishop Minnerath concluded, “I made the effort to come alone in front of 300 people (applause) so take me seriously as I take you seriously, okay?”

As he was on the point of returning to the courtyard of his residence, a woman with a child in her arms said, “We should have started all this praying together. Please give us your blessing … ” The crowd repeated her petition, asking for a benediction.

All knelt while Bishop Minnerath, in a strong voice, gave the traditional episcopal benediction in Latin that begins: “Sit nomen Domini benedictum … ”

After he left, they sang a decade of the rosary, and the “Goodbye” song of the traditional scouts of France, which translated reads:

Goodbye comrade,

May the Lord protect you

On the road where your Angel will watch over you,

May the Virgin show you the way to the stars,

Where we will meet tomorrow!