Volume 3, Chapter
In your letter
of 20 October you asked me to pray and reflect before replying,
and this is what I have done in the hope that these lines will help
to make the situation clearer.
I firmly hope
that relations will soon be brought back to normal, relying upon
the prayer for unity expressed by Our Lord and the benevolent attitude
of the Holy Father towards us, to which you refer once again.
To tell the
truth, I have replied on numerous occasions to all the observations
that you make in your letter. It is enough to refer above all to
my replies to the questionnaire of 28 January 19781
and to the oral questions of 11/12 January 1979, as well as to my
numerous letters addressed to the Holy Father in the course of the
two years of his pontificate.
The reply to
the reprimands in the first part of your letter is to be found in
the situation of the Church, especially in France, since Vatican
II, a situation such that it justifies the use of the extraordinary
remedies foreseen by Canon Law, and even Natural Law, under such
On the matter
of the Confirmations, in accordance with your wishes I refrained
from conferring this sacrament for six months; but seeing no solution
to hand, I deemed it necessary to respond to the anguish of the
faithful, in conformity to the replies that I gave on 26 February
1978 to the questions of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith of 28 January 1978 and my answers to Nos. 4, 5 and
7 of the questionnaire of 11/12 January 1979. On the matter of the
Ordinations, I twice delayed carrying them out upon your request,
to facilitate a solution. Seeing that there was no result, I undertook
these ceremonies in conformity to the explanations that I gave in
answers 9, 10, and 11 to the questionnaire of 11/12 January 1979
as well in my letter to the Holy Father of 24 December 1978.
As to the conditions
expressed in the second part of your letter, they should not cause
any serious problems: indeed the first, which demands submission
to the Magisterium of the Church, the pope and the bishops, is dearer
to me than anyone; witness the lectures on the Magisterium that
I have given in all my seminaries, and that I give myself at the
seminary of Ecône.
it not for the sake of this fidelity to the Magisterium that I am
persecuted, and, what is more, for the very argument put forward
by the Holy Father, i.e., "that the Council must be understood
in the light of the whole of holy Tradition, and on the basis of
the unvarying Magisterium of Holy Mother Church." The criterion
by which any magisterium is judged is precisely the degree to which
it conforms to Tradition and the constant Magisterium of the Church.
Whence the grave reservations that we must have about certain of
the documents of Vatican II, such as Dignitatis Humanæ
and Gaudium et Spes, reservations which people better qualified
than myself have expressed to the same degree.
So I quite
agree to your first condition.
As to the second
condition, I have never disputed the validity of the liturgical
reform in principle, since I signed the document on the Liturgy;
but, like many of my brethren in the episcopate, we were a long
way from thinking that this document could be used in the ways that
it has been used. Besides, there has been no lack of protests. At
the Synod of 1969, on the occasion of the presentation of the Missa
Normativa in the Sistine Chapel, a vote was taken and the majority
voted against it.2
Cardinal Ottaviani and Cardinal Bacci informed the Holy Father by
of their grave disquiet.3
What is more, I can bear personal witness to Pope Paul VI’s
comments on the occasion of a public audience, when he expressed
his disappointment at the disappearance of the exorcisms in the
new rite of Baptism and his regret at the changes in the Offertory
in the Novus Ordo.
If it is added
that these ways of applying the liturgical reforms have opened the
door to all sorts of innovations, it seems not only legitimate but
also praiseworthy to abide by the traditional rites which defend
the sacred nature of our holy mysteries and are a rampart against
Modernist and Protestant influences.
During my visits
you have often told me of a document which ought to put an end to
the ostracism of which the pre-1969 liturgy is a victim. We await
it in hope. It would be a great source of consolation within the
Church and would be the occasion of a great renewal of fervor and
would provide an opportunity to normalize relations between the
Society and the Holy See and would make a supplementary apostolate
be improved by the designation of a delegate agreed upon by all
parties, appointed for a limited time and for a precisely determined
So this situation,
which must be considered appalling, would be resolved: that of the
Vatican, supreme administrative body of the Church, which is all
Tradition, persecuting bishops, priests and the faithful for the
crime of remaining true to Tradition.
such a solution, I renew the proposals that I sent to the Holy Father
on 16 October 1980 via Cardinal Thiandoum, and attached a copy for
the hope that this answer, with God's help and the intercession
of the Blessed Virgin Mary, will hasten a happy decision by the
Holy Father, let me assure you, Your Eminence, of my most respectful
and fraternal devotion in Christo et Maria.
* * *
to the letter of 16 October was enclosed.)
See Apologia II, Chapter XIV to XVIII.
There have been conflicting interpretations of the voting at this
Synod. Seventy-one bishops voted placet (“yes”); forty-three
voted non placet (“no”); sixty-two voted placet juxta
modum (“yes, with reservations”); and four abstained.
Traditionalists tend to add the placet juxta modum to the non placet
votes and speak of the rejection of the Missa Normativa (as the
Novus Ordo was then known). A number of the reservations expressed
by the bishops who voted placet justa modum were in favor of an
even more radical adaptation of the Mass, which means that adding
these votes to the non placet votes and speaking of a straightforward
rejectioncannot be justified. What is beyond dispute is that only
a minority of the bishops at the synod found the Missa Normativa
acceptable as it stood. Detailed documentation on this matter is
available in Pope Paul’s New Mass, pp. 48-51.
The full text of this letter is available in Pope Paul’s New
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