The proclamation of the Year of Faith (which begins on October 11, 2012 and ends on November 24, 2013) is a bid to mobilize the faithful on an unprecedented scale for the New Evangelization. Pope Benedict XVI’s call is being heeded by tradition-minded faithful—those who regularly attend the celebration of the liturgy according to the 1962 Missal, which was liberalized in 2007 by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
As was reported in early August on various blogs and websites, including La Stampa’s Vatican Insider, traditionalists from around the world will converge in Rome November 1-3 for a pilgrimage in conjunction with the Year of Faith, to support the Holy Father and to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. The pilgrimage will conclude with a Mass in the extraordinary form at St. Peter’s Basilica on November 3.
The event is being coordinated by the newly-established Coetus Internationalis Pro Summorum Pontificum (CISP), the umbrella organization representing various groups of lay faithful committed to the implementation of the motu proprio, in particular the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV, the International Una Voce Federation) and the Coordinamento Nazionale del Summorum Pontificum Italiano (Italian Summorum Pontificum’s National Coordination Board).
Commentators have described this event as the first major gathering of traditionalists in Rome, but this is not entirely correct. For example, as reported by Inside the Vatican (December 1998), a similar event took place in Rome in late October 1998, with some 3,000 tradition-minded faithful coming to the Eternal City to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, in which John Paul II sought to facilitate the celebration of the old rite by easing some of its restrictions. Una Voce was also among the major forces behind that event 14 years ago, which was “far more successful than most people hoped,” in the words of the group’s former president, the late Michael Davies.
Thomas Murphy serves as both secretary of Una Voce and official spokesman for CISP. He kindly agreed to the exclusive interview below to discuss the upcoming gathering in Rome.
CWR: You are the official spokesperson of Coetus Internationalis pro Summorum Pontificum. What is the purpose of this committee?
Murphy: The Coetus Internationalis brings together various groups of faithful who are working in their own way in support of Summorum Pontificum. To unite those groups in charity and to work in co-operation is our first purpose. The focus of the Coetus Internationalis is to organize a pilgrimage to Rome in early November.
We are taking the opportunity of the Holy Year of Faith and the fifth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum to invite associations, groups, and movements of the faithful from across Europe and the world to join us in Rome for an expression of support for the Holy Father and to give thanks for the Pope’s “Magna Carta” liberating the Gregorian Rite. This is our invitation to all the faithful to affirm our Catholic faith and our fidelity to the Roman pontiff, to express our belief that traditional Latin liturgy is a perfect instrument of the New Evangelization, [because of] its appeal to the young and its universality.
The pilgrimage will culminate in a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite at 10 am on Saturday, November 3 in St. Peter’s Basilica, the beating heart of the Catholic world.
CWR: What are the movements involved with the initiative?
Murphy: The list of movements is growing almost daily. We intend to produce an initial list at the official launch of the pilgrimage on September 10, but some movements merit particular mention. I speak also as the secretary of the International Federation “Una Voce,” which has given its strong support to the Coetus Internationalis. Member associations of our federation across five continents, especially Una Voce Italia, have been active in the work of the Coetus Internationalis.
An excellent new initiative has been the Coetus Nationalis pro Summorum Pontificum (CNSP), drawing together groups and organizations on the Italian peninsula including some of our Una Voce associations. I would also like to give honored mention to the very experienced and recognized French association Notre-Dame-de-Chrétienté, organizer of the annual Chartres pilgrimage and the Foederatio Internationalis Juventutem, the International Federation of Young People in support of Summorum Pontificum—a well-known sight at World Youth Day—which has confirmed its adherence to the Coetus Internationalis in recent days.
The support of all of these groups and movements is essential if we are to achieve our purpose of creating a unity of charity and cooperation among the supporters of Summorum Pontificum, and especially in expressing our thanks for Summorum Pontificum and our fidelity to the Roman Pontiff during the pilgrimage to Rome in November. I repeat that invitation to any group supporting Summorum Pontificum to register in support of the Coetus Internationalis.
CWR: Do you have any other details on the progress of pilgrimage, such as the name of the celebrant of the closing Mass at St. Peter’s?
Murphy: We are working as actively as the summer break—sacrosanct in Rome—will allow. The name of the celebrant will be announced at the official launch in September.
In addition to the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, we invite each group that joins us to hold a ceremony or gathering of their own in Rome during that weekend of All Saints. To this end, our chaplain, Abbé Claude Barthe, author of numerous books and articles on liturgical matters, will liaise with groups of pilgrims and with clergy who will be in Rome on this occasion. Anyone interested can contact our Secretariat at email@example.com or me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CWR: You launch the pilgrimage officially on September 10, barely eight weeks prior to the Mass on November 3. Time is short. How many pilgrims do you expect to make the trip to Rome?
Murphy: It is true that the deadlines are short. However, much work has been done by the Coetus Internationalis discreetly over many months. The estimates that I have seen give a range of between 3,000 and 4,000 pilgrims from around the world.
CWR: You mentioned that you are also secretary of Una Voce. What role has that group played in this pilgrimage and what place does this pilgrimage have in the activities of Una Voce?
Murphy: As the oldest organization of laity working for the preservation of the traditional Latin liturgy, the International Federation “Una Voce” was involved from the beginning in this. Our network of associations and federations in 33 countries across five continents places great emphasis upon working in cooperation and within a unity of charity. It was natural that FIUV would be an early and steadfast supporter of the Coetus Internationalis.
Our federation comes to Rome every two years for a General Assembly of Members, but we were anxious to make a special effort to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum and to demonstrate our fidelity to the Pope during the Year of Faith. The pilgrimage to Rome in November will be an ideal opportunity to do as Catholics have always done—to make a pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles, and to publicly declare their fidelity to the pope.
Where the Coetus Internationalis is different, and what should appeal to everyone who supports Summorum Pontificum, is its freedom from division. It is a simple act of love on the part of many souls in many Catholic movements that seeks to include everyone in our visible expression of faith, of thanks, and of fidelity. To all those who share our Catholic faith, who share our gratitude for Summorum Pontificum, who share our fidelity to the Holy Father, and to all those who listen to my words I say: come with us to Rome!