Saturday, December 16, 2006

Italian intellectuals sign "Tridentine Manifesto"

Rorate Caeli has posted the amazing news that a group of Italian intellectuals have signed a Manifesto in support of Pope Benedict XVI's decision to free the Tridentine Mass.

A group of French intellectuals has also signed their own version of the Manifesto.

The underground is coming out in force.

I believe this is going to be the first salvo in the battle for the return to Tradition in the modern Church.

The Italian daily Il Foglio publishes today a manifesto signed by great Italian intellectuals, including Antonio Socci and Franco Zeffirelli (and also René Girard, of the Académie Française, who published with other French intellectuals a manifesto published today at Le Figaro,), in defense of the liberation of the Traditional Roman Mass, the Missa Piana, and remembering the Petition of 1966 and the great British Petition of 1971, of venerable memory.

Our English version of the "Socci Manifesto" (from the Italian original):

I wish to launch an appeal to the world of culture.

In support of a decision of Benedict XVI.

The announcement was given by Cardinal Arturo Medina Estevez, a member of the Ecclesia Dei commission which met to discuss the liberalization of the Latin Mass. The prelate said, "The publication of the Motu Proprio by the Pope which will liberalize the celebration of the Latin Mass according to the Missal of Saint Pius V is close." It is an extraordinarily important event for the Church and even for the culture and history of our civilization. Historically, lay intellectuals were actually those to realize more and better the disaster, the actual cultural destruction, represented by the "prohibition" of the liturgy of Saint Pius V and the disappearance of Latin as sacred language of the Catholic Church.

When, 40 years ago -- in contravention to the documents of the Council -- the prohibition of the ancient liturgy of the Church (that which had been celebrated even during the Council) was imposed, there was a great and meritorious protest by very important intellectuals who considered this decision as an attack on the roots of our Christian Civilization (the liturgy has always been a center and a fountain of the most sublime art). Two appeals were published in defense of the Mass of Saint Pius V, in 1966 and 1971. These are some of the names which undersigned them: Jorge Luís Borges, Giorgio De Chirico, Elena Croce, W. H. Auden, the directors Bresson and Dreyer, Augusto Del Noce, Julien Green, Jacques Maritain (who indeed was the favorite intellectual of Paul VI, the one to whom the Pope had given the letter to intellectuals at the end of the Council), Eugenio Montale, Cristina Campo, François Mauriac, Salvatore Quasimodo, Evelyn Waugh, Maria Zambrano, Elémire Zolla, Gabriel Marcel, Salvador De Madariaga, Gianfranco Contini, Giacomo Devoto, Giovanni Macchia, Massimo Pallottino, Ettore Paratore, Giorgio Bassani, Mario Luzi, Guido Piovene, Andrés Segovia, Harold Acton, Agatha Christie, Graham Greene, and many others, incuding the editor of the “Times”, William Rees-Mogg.

They are largely lay intellectuals because the cultural and spiritual value of the ancient Latin liturgy is a legacy of all, as is the Sistine Chapel, as is the Gregorian [chant], as the great cathedrals, Gothic sculpture, the Basilica of Saint Peter also are. Even more so today, when our entire European Civilization risks to cut off and deny its own roots.

Curiously, even "progressive Catholics", which made the dialogue with the world and with modern culture their banner, did not give any regard and fought for forty years to keep this incredible prohibition. An unprecedented arbitrariness. In April 2005, at the eve of the election of Benedict XVI, it was a lay writer, Guido Ceronetti, who writes, in La Repubblica, an open letter to the new Pope, in which he asked "that the sinister suffocating gag on the Latin voice of the Mass be removed". When he was a cardinal, Ratzinger declared that the prohibition of the Mass of Saint Pius V was unprecedented: "throughout her history, has never abolished nor forbidden orthodox liturgical forms, which would be quite alien to the very spirit of the Church". In one of his books, he retold dramatically how he had viewed the publication of the missal of Paul VI: "I was dismayed by the prohibition of the old missal, since nothing of the sort had ever happened in the entire history of the liturgy. The impression was even given that what was happening was quite normal," but, Ratzinger wrote, "the prohibition of the missal that was now decreed, a missal that had known continuous growth over the centuries, starting with the sacramentaries of the ancient Church, introduced a breach into the history of the liturgy whose consequences could only be tragic ... the old building was demolished, and another was built."

The effects were disastrous. The road to incredible abuses in the liturgy was opened. Ratzinger writes, "I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not He speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the world-wide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence?"

That same Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who prepares to cancel the prohibition, will find opposition even inside the Church (already pre-announced by the French bishops) and he deserves an answer from the world of culture which, forty years ago, made its voice heard. I ask intellectuals and whomever may wish to do so to sign this synthetic manifesto:

"We express our praise for the decision of Benedict XVI to cancel the prohibition of the ancient Mass in Latin according to the Missal of Saint Pius V, a great legacy of our culture, which must be saved and rediscovered."

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