In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, explained that Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum,” which liberalized the use of the Tridentine Mass, is not a return to the past and has brought many separated brethren back into full communion with the Church.
During the interview, Cardinal Castrillon explained that the Pope’s letter, which renewed the possibility of celebrating the Mass according to the ancient rite, has led many Catholics to request to be received back into communion with the Church.
“In Spain,” he said, “the Oasis of Jesus the Priest, an entire cloistered monastery of 30 nuns led by their founder, has been recognized and regularized by the Pontifical Commission.”
“On the other hand there are American, German and French groups, and other members of the laity, who contact us, write us and call in search of reconciliation. And there are many faithful who express their gratitude to the Pope for issuing the Motu Proprio,” the cardinal said.
“There is one thing that needs to be stressed,” he continued. “This is not a return to the past, but rather progress, because now there are two treasures instead of just one. And this way the other treasure is available, thus respecting the right of those who are particularly attached to the ancient liturgy.”
The Colombian cardinal noted that there have been some practical problems in implementing the directive, but the Ecclesia Dei Commission is planning to provide more help to “seminaries, dioceses and bishops’ conferences” to eliminate the difficulties.
“In addition,” he went on, “it is important that there are already priests who use the extraordinary form and make themselves available to celebrate or explain the Mass according to the 1962 missal.”
Cardinal Castrillon stressed that “the Pope has been clear” that it is “an error” to assert that the use of the Latin language is only for the ancient rite, as it is foreseen in the Missal of Paul VI.” He also reiterated that the Motu Proprio grants any priest the rite to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass and that the faithful have the right to this form “when the conditions specified in the Motu Proprio exist.”
“The Pope is offering the Church a treasure that is spiritual, cultural, religious and catholic,” he continued, noting that the Commission has received letters of support from Orthodox, Anglican and even Protestant ministers. Cardinal Castrillon also said priests and faithful of the Society of St. Pius X have sought to regularize their status with the Church in the wake of the Motu Proprio. He pointed out that the members of the SSPX are not separated from the Church. “The excommunication applied only to the four bishops” who were ordained by Archbishop Lefebrve.
Mass celebrated by priests of the Society is “undoubtedly valid, but not licit. Therefore, attendance at these Mass is not advised, unless there is no other possibility on Sundays,” he said.
Cardinal Castrillon offered his own personal reflection on the new directive. “I very much like the novus ordo which I celebrate daily. I have never celebrated the Mass according to the 1962 Missal after the liturgical reform. Now, in joining in the extraordinary rite on a few occasions, I have rediscovered the richness of the ancient liturgy which the Pope wants to keep alive,” he said.
“We should never forget that the supreme point of reference in the liturgy, as in life, is always Christ,” Cardinal Castrillon added. “We are not afraid, therefore, in the liturgical rite as well, of turning to Him, towards the Crucified one, together with the faithful, in order to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, in an unbloody way, as the Council of Trent defined the Mass,” he said.