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Outreach to Latin Mass Catholics Proposed
for Final Message

By John L. Allen Jr.


A rather deafening silence at the Synod of Bishops about the pre-Vatican II Mass was broken on Saturday, when Colombian Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos proposed that the bishops' final message contain an opening to Catholics attached to the old Mass, perhaps treating it as one among several approved rites in the Catholic church.

Sources told NCR that Castrillón Hoyos did not specifically mention the idea of a "universal indult," meaning permission for priests to celebrate the old Mass whenever they like, but that his remarks "could be read in that way."

On another issue, the current draft of the final message expresses "compassion" for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, encouraging them to remain connected to the church. Some bishops expressed concern that the language might make the church's position on the indissolubility of marriage seem ambiguous, but other bishops said they want the reference to remain.

The Synod of Bishops met Saturday morning to consider the first draft of its final message, which was criticized by some participants for its length.

The synod will produce two documents by its Oct. 23 close: a final message released to the public, and a set of propositions reserved to the pope.

Proposal made on Latin Mass
During discussion Saturday morning, Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy as well as president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, created in 1988 to meet the pastoral needs of Catholics attached to the pre-Vatican II Mass, proposed inserting language that would essentially treat the old Mass as a legitimate rite of the church, comparable, for example, to the various Eastern rites that already exist.

Under current rules that date from 1984, priests may celebrate the old Mass only with the permission of the local bishop.

Prior to Castrillón Hoyos' proposal, no one at the synod had spoken about the old Mass. Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the Congregation for Divine Worship, defined the old Mass as "not a priority for the synod" at a Thursday press conference.

The synod will next see a draft of the final message on Oct. 21, at which time it will be put up for a vote. The Committee for the Message will now decide whether or not to include Castrillón Hoyos' proposal, along with others heard Saturday morning.

Castrillón Hoyos has long been an advocate of reconciliation with the adherents of the old Mass, above all the breakaway Society of St. Pius X founded by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

Efforts at reconciliation date to 1999, when Castrillón Hoyos wrote to four bishops ordained illicitly by Lefebvre in 1988, addressing them as "my dear brother," and saying that the pope's arms were open wide to embrace them.

A meeting between three of the bishops and Castrillón took place on Aug. 14, 2000, in Castrillón's Rome apartment.

One public signal of progress came on Aug. 8, 2000, when more than 1,000 members of the society entered St. Peter's Basilica for a prayer service to mark the Jubilee Year. Though the event had not been on the Vatican calendar, officials acknowledged it had taken place with the approval of the Holy See.

On Aug. 29, Pope Benedict XVI received the current head of the society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, also one of the four men consecrated by Lefebvre, in a private audience at Castel Gandolfo.




"National Catholic Reporter" October 15, 2005




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