“What confidence can we have in our Church by seeing the faculties that are granted to those who are no longer part of it, in comparison with the fate that has befallen us? Philippe Darantière is troubled. The spokesperson for the Lex Orandi collective, which brings together several associations for the defense of the faithful attached to the Tridentine Mass, still does not understand the successive restrictions imposed by the Pope on celebrations according to the pre-conciliar rite.
On three occasions in two years, since the publication of the motu proprio Traditionis custodes, Francis has thus prohibited the conferring of certain sacraments according to the ancient liturgical books and has limited the celebration of the “tradi” mass. The latest quota to come from Rome, a rescript published in February by the Vatican withdrew bishops the ability to grant dispensations to celebrate the Tridentine Mass in personal parishes and parish churches. The only exception to date: the pope has authorized, by means of a decree, all the priests of the Priestly Society of Saint Peter, the main traditionalist institute in the world, to make use of the preconciliar missals.
The dismay of Philippe Darantière and of the defenders of the preconciliar liturgy is all the stronger since the pope has prudently opened up, in recent years, new rights to the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX), excluded from full communion. church. In 2015, he allowed SSPX priests to licitly hear confessions. Two years later, he granted them, on the proposal of the “Ecclesia Dei” Commission (now dissolved but at the head of which he had in the past appointed several personalities appreciated by the Lefebvrist movements), the faculty to celebrate marriages .
On the side of the traditionalists who remained in the Roman fold, there was concern about the consequences of these choices considered paradoxical. “Traditionis custodes and the measures that followed will lead to the departure of many Catholics, both faithful and seminarians, to the SSPX”, jointly deplore several heads of traditionalist institutes and diocesan priests celebrating with the old missals. So far, no massive movement has been observed.
Their fear is heightened by the December 2021 ban on ordaining priests in the pre-Vatican II rite, while SSPX ordinations are considered “sacramentally valid” by the Vatican – though they remain illicit in the eyes of the Holy See.
No rapprochement planned with the SSPX
At Saint Pius X, the Pope’s orientations are interpreted as an invitation to join his ranks. “For the Pope, if you want to attend the Tridentine Mass on a regular basis, then you have to go to the SSPX, wants to believe Father Grégoire Célier, priest of the Parisian chapel Notre-Dame-de-Consolation. He expands for us, but says there is no longer room for it in the Church. »
Father Célier explains this attitude towards the Lefebvrists by “the importance of personal relations in his management of current affairs”: “He grants more things if we go to meet him, it was already the case when he was archbishop from Buenos Aires. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio had at the time instituted a dialogue with two priests of the Society in Argentina, in particular Father Christian Bouchacourt, former superior of the district of Latin America and current assistant to superior general Davide Pagliarani.
However, Francis does not envisage the imminent reintegration of the SSPX into the Church. The doctrinal discussions initiated since 2009 are at a standstill and the few contacts between Menzingen, the seat of the Society, in Switzerland, and Rome relate essentially to questions of canon law. “For the moment it is the status quo, confirms Father Célier. Ultimately, I believe that, unlike his predecessor, Pope Francis has little interest in us. »