Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage brings tradition-minded crowds to Rome

The fourth Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage recently brought to Rome more than one thousand tradition-minded Catholics from around the world October 22-25, 2015. The pilgrimage concluded on Sunday, October 25 with a late-morning Pontifical Mass for the Feast of Christ the King at the personal parish for the traditional community in Rome, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, celebrated by Dom Jean Pateau, OSB, Abbot of Fontgombault. This is a Benedictine monastery of the Solesmes Congregation, where Mass is celebrated in Latin using the 1962 Roman Missal.

This fourth pilgrimage took place in conjunction with the International Una Voce Federation (FIUV) General Assembly. FIUV is an international federation of Catholic lay organizations promoting the liturgy according to the 1962 Roman Missal; it currently has 45 member associations from every continent.

The FIUV General Assembly included an open forum on Sunday, October 25 graced by the presence of Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, who was in a position to comment on the Synod on the Family after its final document had been released.

According to Cardinal Pell, the final version was almost a miracle when compared with the original draft: “The synod itself is much, much better than the worst we have feared,” he said.

Although some bishops objected to the final document because they thought that the true teaching of the Church was not taught explicitly enough, in Cardinal Pell’s opinion, “Catholic doctrine is stated clearly.”

“There is nothing there endorsing Communion for the divorced and remarried. There is nothing there endorsing a penitential process. There is nothing there that is saying homosexual activity is justified,” he said. On the other hand, he saw a danger in the wording about conscience because people could use “conscience” to mean license to “do what they want.” But the paragraph about conscience was rewritten in the last days: “You need to study it, but it is basically good,” he said.

Cardinal Pell admitted that the language is “different” and verbose. “Some people will say it is terrible, but it is not terrible,” he said. He does not know how the text will be explained or spun, but he said he is sure that there will be attempts to “make something out of it.” But, he explained, “there is no doctrinal error in anything that has been published.”

On Saturday, October 24, pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica for a solemn Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form. “On the occasion of the pilgrimage to Rome of the Coetus Internationalis Summorum Pontificum, which keeps the ancient Roman liturgy alive in the Church, the Holy Father Pope Francis sends his warm greetings, along with his wish that their participation in this devout visit to the tombs of the Apostles stirs up their fervent adherence to Christ, who is celebrated in the beauty of the liturgy, which brings us to contemplate the Lord transfigured in the light of glory, and that it brings renewed energy to their witness to the perennial message of the Christian faith.” This was the message conveyed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Holy Father to those present at the Mass. His Holiness also asked those present to persevere in prayer in support of his Petrine ministry, and imparted his apostolic blessing to all the clergy and faithful present.

The Bishop Emeritus of San Luis in Argentina, Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise, was the celebrant at this Mass, and the homily was delivered by Archbishop Luigi Negri of Ferrara-Comacchio (Italy). Archbishop Negri spoke of the great mission of Christ and his Church. This mission, he said, is characterized “by two great words that in her history the Church could and had to say: the first word is possumus (we can),” whereby the Church was able to bring Christ to the world for its evangelization. The other word, Archbishop Negri went on, is “non possumus” (we cannot), which the Church on many occasions also has had to say. Especially in the dramatic history of Western Europe, the Church has often, sometimes alone, taken on responsibility for denying the legitimacy of certain ideologies, the legitimacy of certain cultural, social, and political patterns. In an indirect reference to the discussions of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Negri stated that the Church must oppose those bent on “debasing man, debasing the mystery of life, the mystery of love, the sanctity of fatherhood and motherhood” as well as those desirous of seeing marriage and family life “altered, destroyed, replaced….”

The Mass in St. Peter’s was presided over by a replica of the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which led the procession from the church of San Lorenzo in Damaso throughout Corso Vittorio right through the main entrance of the basilica amid prayers and hymns. The faithful in attendance were estimated at between 1,800 and 2,000.

A direct reference to the synod was made by Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, in his homily at the Mass celebrated on Friday in the church of Santa Maria in Campitelli. After having recalled the Church’s maternal role, Archbishop Pozzo pointed out that this role may never be separated from her teaching mission, and therefore real love for mankind is never to be intended as “a weakening, a dilution, or, even worse, a darkening of doctrinal and moral truth.” Then he called upon the faithful to pray “for these convictions to inspire the conclusions of the Synod of the Bishops, for it to actually contribute to the growth of the Christian people in the truth and love of Christ.”

The FIUV general assembly in Rome marked the group’s 50th anniversary. On Saturday, October 24, the group elected a new president: Felipe Alanis Suarez of Una Voce Mexico, who replaced the outgoing president, British Colonel James Bogle.

The election of a new president “from the other side of the world” is a departure from the largely English-speaking recent leadership of FIUV; after three presidents from the UK (Michael Davies, Leo Darroch and James Bogle) in the last several decades, now there is a president from the Spanish-speaking world. With the focus shifting from the Anglophone world to the Latin American continent, one cannot help but think of the faithful Cristeros, who, less than a century ago, did not hesitate to shed their blood to resist a regime that, to borrow the words of Archbishop Negri, was attempting “to eliminate the presence of the Church from society, reduce the rights of God and of his Church.” The connection was recalled by the newly-elected president himself, when he concluded his first message on the FIUV website with the battle-cry of the Mexican Cristeros: Viva Cristo Rey! 


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About Alberto Carosa 38 Articles
Alberto Carosa is a Catholic journalist who writes from Rome, especially for US Catholic newspapers and periodicals.